The Phoenix Coyotes were one of the biggest surprises in the NHL last season, and didn’t have a losing streak longer than three games.
The Coyotes will try to withstand the absence of their suspended captain when they host the surging Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Phoenix (1-2-1) set franchise records with 50 wins and 107 points last season, ending a six-season playoff drought. The club, though, is struggling to build on that success in 2010-11, scoring a league-low eight goals and losing three in a row after falling 3-2 at Anaheim on Sunday.
“We need to find ways to win,” Doan said. “We’re going to be a team that has to win one-goal games, and so far we’ve lost two.”
Doan, the Coyotes’ top scorer each of the last six seasons, won’t be playing a part in that for a while after being banned for a blindside hit to the head of the Ducks’ Dan Sexton(notes). The right wing wasn’t penalized during the game for the hit, but the league opted to suspend him under its new initiative to curb such blows.
“While it was fortunate that Sexton did not suffer an injury, the message should be clear that this is the type of hit that we want out of our game,” NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said.
With Doan out, the Coyotes will try to avoid their longest slide since losing five straight from March 6-14, 2009.
They could use some improvement offensively after totaling three goals over the last three games following a season-opening 5-2 victory over Boston on Oct. 9.
Phoenix went 3-2-1 against the Kings in 2009-10, but won just once in three matchups at Jobing.com Arena.
The Kings are also dealing with a key absence as they open a five-game, eight-day road trip following Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Carolina.
Drew Doughty(notes) will miss at least one game after suffering an upper-body injury on a neutral-zone hit by the Hurricanes’ Erik Cole(notes) in the opening period. The 20-year-old defenseman has one point in five games after getting a career-high 59 to become a finalist for the Norris Trophy last season - his second in the NHL.
Coach Terry Murray didn’t disclose details of the injury, but said Doughty would return during the trip, which Los Angeles opens looking for its fourth straight win.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we did enough things to win (Wednesday), and hopefully we can keep that up,” center Anze Kopitar(notes) said. “Everybody feels confident. Everybody believes in each other this year. When you get off to a good start, it feels good, and hopefully (Doughty) will be right back in it with us.”
Kopitar scored his first goal of the season Wednesday, while adding an assist for a fourth consecutive game. He had personal and team highs of 34 goals and 47 assists last season.
He’s accumulated nine goals and 20 assists in 29 career games against the Coyotes, and his 13 points in 14 contests at Jobing.com Arena are the most he’s scored at any venue besides Staples Center.