1/21/2007 3:40:26 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A gritty come-from behind road victory over the Los Angeles Kings was worth the wait for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Ladislav Nagy and Travis Roche scored in the third period and Josh Gratton scored his first of the season, leading the Coyotes to a 3-2 victory Saturday night and extending the Kings' losing streak to seven games.
Rookie Anze Kopitar had a short-handed goal and Alexander Frolov scored for the Kings. Sean Burke stopped 23 of 24 shots in his Kings debut before dehydration forced him out of the game with 16:40 left in the third period. He departed right after making a couple of rapid-fire saves on rebound attempts by Phoenix captain Shane Doan while on his knees.
"He played real well for them," Roche said. "I'm not sure what happened to him and why he had to leave. But to say that we were happy about it wouldn't be an overstatement, for sure. I don't think he surprised us. I watched him while I was growing up, and he played here, so I know what kind of goaltender he is."
Yutaka Fukufuji relieved Burke and surrendered the tying goal, a wrist shot from the top of the right circle by Nagy that bounced off the rookie's glove with 6:02 left in regulation. Roche got the game-winner on a shot from above the right circle that caromed off defenceman Mattias Norstrom's skate with 1:39 to play.
"We haven't had any quit in us the last month or so," Roche said. "We've been battling to the very end, and we did again tonight. To win it like that was great. We were able to sneak one out."
Burke, a 17-year veteran who turns 40 years old on Jan. 19, was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on Thursday because of injuries to Dan Cloutier and Mathieu Garon - and the failure of Fukufuji and fellow rookie Barry Brust to provide the Kings with NHL-calibre goaltending over the previous four games.
This is the eighth different NHL franchise for Burke, who spent parts of five seasons with Phoenix.
"I kept it simple and I felt that I was going to have good energy," Burke said. "I was a little concerned about my game conditioning. I haven't played in a game for close to two months. That, combined with a tough week of travel, I just felt dehydrated to a point where I wasn't able to finish."
A standing room-only crowd of 18,346 welcomed Burke, a three-time all-star, to Staples Center after cheering their lungs out during a pre-game ceremony in which the Kings retired Luc Robitaille's No. 20 jersey.
"It was a great ceremony," said Phoenix centre Steven Reinprecht, a Kings teammate of Robitaille's during the 2000-01 season. "Luc had an unbelievable career, and just to be able to be a part of that and watch it was special for everybody in this dressing room."
The Coyotes had to wait through Robitaille's 1-hour ceremony after taking their pre-game warmup, and the long delay might have affected them. The Kings scored on two of their first three shots against Mikael Tellqvist after a couple of sloppy turnovers by the Coyotes - one of which led to Kopitar's second short-handed goal.
"It was tough. I know I was stiff and I'm sure a few of the other guys were, but it's not an excuse to get off to the start we did because they had to go through the same thing," Phoenix's Owen Nolan said.