Nagy responds to benching as Coyotes topple KingsDec 1, 2006 - 4:57 AM
Returning to the ice after being benched, Nagy had a goal and three assists as the Phoenix Coyotes posted a wild 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
After scoring twice in the season opener, Nagy had netted just one goal in his next 21 games, including 11 in a row without a tally. That prompted Gretzky to make the Slovakian a healthy scratch for the first time in his career Saturday against St. Louis, a move that obviously sparked Nagy.
"It was good to be back with the guys and to play," Nagy said. "I have to move on and I can't think about the past. I have to have fun on the ice, that is the key. I don't think about it, I just want to play hockey and do what I do best."
"I was tremendously happy for his contribution," Gretzky said. "I know that he really took it to heart this week and he wanted to rebound and have a great game. I thought his work ethic was as good, if not better, than it was all season long. He did a lot of little things well tonight."
With Phoenix already trailing, Nagy forged a 1-1 tie at 4:06 of an exciting first period. The teams again traded goals before Nagy set up defenseman Zbynek Michalek at 8:55 and Patrick Fischer with 2:01 to go in the session, giving the Coyotes a 4-3 edge.
"It was a weird first period," Kings goaltender Dan Cloutier said. "It seemed like every shot had a chance, for some reason. ... It was one of those nights where Phoenix kept coming and we seemed like we wanted to exchange scoring, like we wanted to play a wide-open game, and we should know better than that. That's not our style."
"We didn't want to get into a trading chances-type game," Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford added. "We didn't want to do what we needed to."
Nagy completed his four-point night with an assist on captain Shane Doan's power-play tally 55 seconds into the second. Mike Zigomanis took over from there, scoring twice in the third period to record his first career multi-goal game and give the Coyotes their highest output of the season.
"It feels good to be back scoring, but we've been doing a lot of good things the last couple of games even though we hadn't been putting points up," Zigomanis said. "As long as we keep getting chances, the puck will go in eventually. We just have to keep working hard and putting the puck deep and try to limit mistakes."
Fischer, Michalek and tough guy Georges Laraque had two assists apiece and Zigomanis also set up a goal for the Coyotes, who have won three of four.
"We are still in last place (in the Pacific Division) and we have a long way to go," Doan said. "Nobody is patting each other on the back too hard yet, but we feel that if we continue on the right course, we have a chance to get back into it."
"The work ethic has been exceptional here," Gretzky said. "Their commitment to the team and wanting to be successful has been really strong. ... They have really come together as a group and they really seem to enjoy each other now, and they are pushing each other."
Derek Armstrong tallied twice and Michael Cammalleri extended his goal-scoring streak to three games for Los Angeles, which has scored 17 times in four meetings with Phoenix this season.
Just 11 seconds after Nagy knotted the game in the first period, Cammalleri took a feed from low in the right faceoff circle by Brian Willsie and beat goaltender Dan Cloutier from just above the crease for his 10th goal.
Oleg Saprykin and Michalek tallied to give Phoenix a 3-2 advantage and chase Cloutier, who made just two saves. But Craig Conroy pounced on a loose puck in the bottom of the right circle and buried it during a power play with 2:40 left in the period to again even the contest.
Making his NHL debut in relief of Cloutier, Barry Brust was beaten by Fischer on a rebound 39 seconds later, and Doan scored on a one-timer from just above the slot on another man advantage early in the second to give the Coyotes the lead for good.
"We had to throw the kid in and he wasn't up to the challenge tonight," Crawford said. "When people aren't playing at the levels they should be playing, we need other guys to help them out."
Cloutier, who started for the first time in four games, has allowed eight goals on 17 shots over his last two appearances.
"I am very frustrated. It has been a weird season for me, an up-and-down season," Cloutier said. "The only way you get out of it is to prepare for the next one. You can't sit on this one, it's over. But I definitely have to be better."
We needed better goaltending tonight, and Danny didn't give it to us," Crawford said. "I know that he wants to play better. I know he's capable of playing better, but we have to find a way to help him through this. This is as puzzling to him as it is to us."
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