After a long road trip that netted them six points, the Phoenix Coyotes return home for the first of three straight, a span that the club hopes to start tonight with a fourth straight victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
The Coyotes went 3-2-0 on their longest road trip of the season, with their two losses coming by a combined two goals. After a victory in Buffalo on Saturday, Phoenix traveled to Washington on Monday but couldn't hold an early lead en route to a 4-3 setback.
A pair of short-handed goals from Radim Vrbata and Lauri Korpikoski staked the Coyotes to an early lead, but the Capitals countered with four straight tallies. Korpikoski's second goal of the game pulled Phoenix to within one, but it could not net the equalizer.
Jason LaBarbera stopped 27 shots in defeat as Phoenix scored a pair of short- handed goals in the same game for the first time since Jan. 2, 2008.
"I thought our guys hung in there and battled, but not much in the tank tonight," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett after his club fell to 9-1-3 when scoring first this season.
The Coyotes, who are 4-3-2 as the host, ended their stalemate with restricted free agent Kyle Turris with a two-year deal on Tuesday. The third overall pick of the 2007 draft, Turris had asked for a trade after sitting out training camp, but general manager Don Maloney refused the request.
Turris, who had to sign by Dec. 1 to be eligible to play this season, had 11 goals and 25 points in 65 games last season and must pass a physical on Wednesday.
"I am happy to sign with Phoenix and start playing," said Turris. "It's been a long process, but now I am focused on playing and helping the team win."
While it is unknown when Turris will join the Coyotes, they are close to getting center Daymond Langkow back. Langkow took a leave of absence with the club following a death in the family and may return to game action on Friday against Vancouver.
Phoenix opened up its season series in Anaheim on Oct. 23 and posted a 5-4 win, its third victory in a row over the Ducks. Martin Hanzal notched two first-period goals, Korpikoski scored and had an assist and Mike Smith made 29 saves to improve to 4-0-1 lifetime against Anaheim with a 1.87 goals-against average.
The Coyotes have won five of their last seven at home over the Ducks, who have lost four in a row overall and are just 2-9-4 since a four-game win streak from Oct. 8-17.
"We made enough mistakes that cost us the hockey game," said Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle. "There is no other way to describe it. We pretty much gave them the three goals. We again mounted a comeback in the hockey game, but it just seems that we're one goal short again."
The Ducks, who have lost six in a row on the road, begin a season high-tying six-game homestand on Friday versus the Blackhawks.