The Phoenix Coyotes are hoping to build on a strong third period from the first of three consecutive games versus the Anaheim Ducks.
That could be a tough task against a more rested Ducks team.
The Coyotes again try to cut into Anaheim's large Pacific Division lead Monday night when they meet for the second time in three days in Arizona.
A quirk in the lockout-shortened schedule has given Phoenix (10-8-3) a golden opportunity to quickly make up some ground. It moved one point closer to the Ducks (15-3-2) with a 5-4 shootout win on Saturday, and will have two more chances to chip away Monday at home and Wednesday at Anaheim.
"They've played very well this year and they're at the top of our division and we're trying to scratch and claw and get up there," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "That's two valuable points for us and they'll be another two valuable points on Monday."
The Coyotes looked like they might not get any Friday, trailing 4-3 midway through the third period, but Steve Sullivan netted the tying goal with 6:29 remaining in regulation and then scored the lone goal in the shootout.
"The mentality is to play a three-game series," said Matthew Lombardi, who scored in the first period. "We won one here. We'll put it behind us and get ready for the next one."
Sullivan had gone 13 games without a goal, and he wasn't the only Phoenix player to break out of a prolonged slump. Lauri Korpikoski scored twice, ending a 10-game stretch without a goal.
Sullivan feels that the Coyotes, who are 8-3-0 in their last 11 at home in this series, may have caught a break with Anaheim arriving in Arizona late after beating Minnesota 3-2 at home Friday night.
"They're not going to be in a back-to-back the next couple of days, so we wanted to make sure we got some points," Sullivan said.
Phoenix took advantage of a weary Ducks team playing for the fifth time in seven days, outshooting them 17-7 in the third period.
"Hopefully we can bring the same energy we got in the third to Monday night," Korpikoski said.
This time, however, Anaheim will likely be in better shape to match the Coyotes' intensity. The Ducks, 12-2-1 since the beginning of February, have won their last six games preceded by at least one day off.
Some of their players visited the Los Angeles Angels at spring training Sunday.
"We looked and felt as tired as we have all season," left wing Bobby Ryan said of Anaheim's sluggish third period Saturday. "We were a pretty tired group, you could see it in the legs."
Andrew Cogliano seemed to have plenty of energy, scoring 21 seconds into the game and adding two more goals in the second period for his second NHL hat trick. His only other one also came in Arizona last January.
Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists Saturday, giving him six points in his last five games.
Anaheim's Viktor Fasth and Phoenix's Mike Smith may square off again Monday, and both are likely eager to get back between the pipes after subpar showings.
Fasth stopped a career-high 33 shots but lost for the second time in three games after opening his career with eight straight wins, while Smith allowed at least four goals for the third time in four contests.
The Associated Press News Service
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