LOS ANGELES — Credit the Arizona Coyotes’ four-game winning streak to rookie goaltender Adin Hill. Or maybe newly acquired centre Nick Schmaltz.
Either way, the Coyotes are getting the best out of the two 22-year-olds and it is resulting in victories.
Schmaltz had a power-play goal, Hill made 25 saves and Arizona beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight win.
Lawson Crouse scored a short-handed goal for the Coyotes, undefeated since acquiring Schmaltz in a trade with Chicago on Nov. 25. Hill has stopped 84 of 86 shots since replacing an injured Antti Raanta to start the third period at Minnesota on Nov. 27.
“He’s unflappable right now,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “He’s feeling it and it’s a nice story.”
Tocchet said he hasn’t decided whether to stick with Hill going forward. Raanta and Darcy Kuemper are close to returning from lower-body injuries.
“Honestly, for me, we’re just taking it a day at a time,” Tocchet said. “You have to right now. He’s done a great job for us since that Minnesota game on. He’s come in and he’s put the plug in for us. We have some guys hurt and he’s holding the fort.”
As for Schmaltz, he has developed an immediate rapport with standout forward Clayton Keller and is looking like the player he was billed to be. The Blackhawks drafted Schmaltz 20th overall in 2014, but dealt him to the Coyotes in a swap of three underachieving first-round picks.
Schmaltz put the Coyotes ahead 2-0 at 5:56 of the second period, extending his point streak to three games. He has two goals and three assists in four games with Arizona.
Crouse gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 18:25 of the first with his fifth goal.
It was the NHL-leading 11th short-handed goal for the Coyotes, already tied for second-most in a season since the franchise moved from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. The Coyotes had 14 short-handed goals in 1999-2000, and 11 in 2007-08.
The Coyotes also lead the NHL by killing 90 per cent of penalties this season. They have allowed a league-low eight power-play goals.
“Obviously, we’re trying to stop the puck going into our own net and when you can chip in offensively, it’s a bonus,” said Crouse, who has two short-handed goals. “I think we’re just playing to our systems, playing fast and jumping at the right times and getting chances and obviously bearing down at the right times.”
Alec Martinez scored and Jonathan Quick made 18 saves for the Kings, held to two goals or fewer in five consecutive games.
Martinez made it 2-1 at 14:15 of the third, scoring for the second straight game.
Dustin Brown appeared to have scored the tying goal with 56.4 seconds remaining, but it was immediately waived off because his stick was over his head when he tipped the puck down to himself before shooting.
“We’ve got to play a lot more minutes like we did the last five to seven minutes,” Kings centre Anze Kopitar said. “You could tell there was desperation there. You’ve just got to play like that for 60 minutes.”
NOTES: Kings forward Trevor Lewis (foot) had surgery and will be out four to five weeks. Lewis has missed 11 games since getting injured in practice on Nov. 16. … Tocchet did not have an update on forward Michael Grabner, who injured his eye Saturday against St. Louis. … The Kings activated forward Nikita Scherbak (lower body) off injured reserve. The team claimed Scherbak, a first-round draft pick by Montreal in 2014, off waivers on Sunday.
By The Associated Press