GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—Keith Ballard started the game with a fight and ended it with an overtime goal.
Ballard scored a short-handed goal with 1:08 left in overtime to give the Phoenix Coyotes their second straight victory since coach Wayne Gretzky returned to the team following his mother’s death, a 6-5 decision over Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Ballard, who squared off with NHL penalty-leader Sean Avery at center ice 1:44 into the game, took a deflected clearing pass from Mike Ricci near center ice and fired the puck over Jason LaBarbera’s right shoulder for his second goal of the game.
“I don’t get to score that often, so when I do it’s fun,” Ballard said. “And to get the game-winner, it’s exciting.”
Ladislav Nagy had a goal and three assists for the Coyotes, who beat San Jose 5-4 on the road Wednesday night in Gretzky’s first game back. He returned after a 10-day leave of absence to be with his mother, who died of lung cancer Dec. 19.
“Right now when I pass it to somebody they score,” said Nagy, who has at least one assist in his last five games. “It’s good for the team and it’s good for me also. I like to score but sometimes I pass too much.”
Paul Mara also scored twice, Mike Comrie had a goal and Shane Doan added three assists to help Phoenix move a point ahead of idle Colorado for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Coyotes will face Colorado at home Saturday night.
In addition to the short-handed goal, Phoenix was 3-for-6 on the power play.
“Our power play has been much better over the past 12 games or so,” Gretzky said. “Statistically it hasn’t been bad all year. Statistically it’s been OK. It’s just we hadn’t been able to find that big goal earl in the season when I needed it.”
“I was just doing my job,” Armstrong said. “If other guys aren’t scoring then I need to score. We’re a team here.”
Armstrong sent the game into overtime when he slid the puck between Curtis Joseph and the left post with 1:11 left in regulation as the Kings skated with an extra attacker.
“It’s a terrible way to lose,” Armstrong said. “You get down 5-4 with a minute left and score a goal. That’s a good way to get a point but a bad way to lose.”
Mara gave the Coyotes a 5-4 lead on his second goal with 14:39 remaining, 39 seconds after Armstrong tied it at 4.
“We’ve been working with our defensemen that when they get the puck, don’t look to pass but take it to the net and try to score,” Gretzky said.
The Coyotes capitalized on a two-man advantage to take a 3-1 lead at 10:59 of the second period. Comrie took a pass from Nagy to the right of the net and slipped the puck between LaBarbera’s pads for his 14th goal.
But Avery answered 44 seconds later, wristing in his own rebound over Joseph’s right shoulder for his ninth goal.
Cammalleri tied it at 3 at 13:48 of the period, skating with the puck from behind the net and beating Joseph from the low slot for his 15th goal.
Ballard put Phoenix back in front with 18:56 remaining when he skated toward the crease and flipped the puck over LaBarbera’s right shoulder.
After Nagy opened the second 2:53 into the game, Mara made it 2-0 at 9:11 of the first period when he took a pass from Nagy and fired into the open right side of the net for a power-play goal.
“We made some fundamental mistakes,” Kings coach Andy Murray said. “Obviously we’re disappointed to give up that many goals and get a short-handed goal scored on us at the end.”
Armstrong pulled the Kings to 2-1 at 13:09, deflecting Joe Corvo’s wrist shot past Joseph for his seventh goal.
Nagy was awarded his second penalty shot of the season at 3:24 of the second period, but missed wide to the right. … Kings center Eric Belanger reaggravated his groin injury in the second period and did not return. … Nagy has 10 goals and 23 assists in his last 22 games. … Avery raised his NHL-leading penalty total to 136 minutes with his first-period fight against Ballard. … Coyotes center Petr Nedved missed his third consecutive game because of a groin strain.
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