Posted April 03, 2013 on AP on Fox
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Jason LaBarbera stopped 39 shots, Keith Yandle scored his second goal late in the third period and the Phoenix Coyotes opened a critical homestand with a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Needing to make up ground in the Western Conference standings, the Coyotes played their usual close-to-the-vest game and managed to hold on for their second win in 10 games after blowing two one-goal leads last week. Matthew Lombardi put Phoenix ahead with his fourth goal of the season in the second period and Yandle followed his 50th career goal in the first with a tough-angle shot that beat Jonathan Quick with less than 3 minutes left. LaBarbera made some tough saves in his fifth straight start in place of injured starter Mike Smith, the only goal against him a shot by Justin Williams that deflected off a Coyotes defenseman in the first period. Quick had 37 saves for the Kings, who finished a five-game road trip 3-1-1. The Coyotes and Kings have had a simmering rivalry because of their proximity and it ramped up during a testy Western Conference finals last season. The Kings won that series in five games and have continued to give Phoenix problems this season, winning three of four games, including back to back in Southern California last month. The Coyotes had added incentive to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champions, needing to go on a big late-season run to get into playoff position after struggling for most of March. Phoenix had a decent three-game road trip, earning four of a possible six points, but needs to start earning two points at a time instead of one with five teams ahead of them for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The Coyotes got off to a good start against the Kings, getting some big saves from LaBarbera - one on a mini breakaway by Brad Richardson - and goal by Yandle midway through the first period after some good work along the boards by Kyle Chipchura and Raffi Torres. They got a bad break just over two minutes later, when a cross by Williams bounced off Phoenix defenseman Michael Stone into the goal to tie the score. Phoenix turned up the pressure midway through the second period and took the lead back when Lombardi flipped a backhander that sent the puck rolling on end and off the far post from the right circle. LaBarbera had some big saves late in the period, stopping Jeff Carter on an odd-man rush and Trevor Lewis from close range in the closing seconds. That put Phoenix up 2-1 heading into the third period, a precarious position for this team lately. The Coyotes held one-goal leads in the third twice during their three-game road trip last week and lost both times, in overtime to Minnesota after allowing a goal with 54 seconds left and to San Jose in a shootout. This time, Phoenix limited the chances against LaBarbera and earned some breathing room when Yandle squeezed a shot past Quick for his first two-goal game in three years. NOTES: The Coyotes recognized LW Steve Sullivan's 1,000th career game with a video tribute and ceremony before the game. Sullivan reached the milestone on Thursday against Nashville. ... Kings D Willie Mitchell will not play this season after having a second surgery on his injured knee. ... Coyotes D Zbynek Michalek missed his 11th straight game with a lower-body injury and LW Lauri Korpikoski his fourth straight with an upper-body injury. ... Phoenix C Rob Klinkhammer had an assist on Lombardi's goal, extending his points streak to five games.
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