It took the Coyotes’ offense nearly 43 minutes to show up Monday, but when it finally did, Phoenix put on a scoring clinic which propelled it to its second straight win and sixth in its past eight.
Trailing 2-1 after the first two periods, the Coyotes notched three goals in 3:56 in the third en route to a 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers at Glendale Arena.
Phoenix (15-12-2), which was 1-8-1 coming in when trailing after two periods, handed Atlanta its first loss in six games when leading after 40 minutes and kept the Thrashers winless in six visits to the Valley.
"We realized that the effort we were giving the first two periods and the battles and the intensity wasn’t there," said Mike Johnson, who had his second straight two-goal game and extended his point streak to five games.
"We all realized we needed to turn it up, and we did."
The Coyotes sputtered out of the gate and despite three power-play opportunities had only five shots on goal in the first period.
They weren’t any better in the second, except for the fact Johnson found the back of the net on a redirected shot with 8:07 left in the period.
Phoenix’s goal came 44 seconds after Marian Hossa put the Thrashers (10-15-3) up 2-0 with the 200th goal of his career.
"Johnson’s goal to make it 2-1 was a huge momentum swing for us," coach Wayne Gretzky said.
After getting outshot by a whopping 23-10 in the first two periods, the Coyotes came out firing in the third and finished with a total of 21 shots in the period.
Paul Mara tied the score with 17:15 remaining with a blast from the blue line, Johnson put Phoenix ahead 1:28 later with a shot from the crease and Boyd Devereaux finished off the quick outburst with another redirected shot in front of the net.
"I think (early) we were thinking we might be a little prettier than we are," said Shane Doan, who assisted on Mara’s goal.
Johnson, who had some traffic in front of him, had a chance for a third goal
with less than a minute remaining when the Thrashers had an empty net, but instead he passed to Mike Comrie (goal, two assists), who finished off the scoring.
"It’s just not in my nature to try that," Johnson said.
Goalie Curtis Joseph made 27 saves for his fourth straight win.
The Coyotes’ win Monday marked their last game until Sunday at Boston and most of the players agreed the break is something that will benefit them.
"Maybe it’s good for our guys. Mentally it’s nice to have a break during the middle of the season when you are playing a lot of hockey," said Gretzky, who left the team after the game to visit his parents for a couple days and do some scouting back for Team Canada, of which he is executive director. He will rejoin the team Saturday in Boston.
Phoenix was the first NHL team to play 20 games this season, but its pace has slowed recently. Monday’s game was only the Coyotes’ third in the past nine days.
"I think it’s something we could definitely use as a team, practice-wise," Doan said. "We’ve got a few guys who are sore. You don’t get that opportunity too often during the season. We’ve got to make hay right after that because after that it gets hectic."
When it returns to action, Phoenix will play 11 games in 21 days.
Forwards Blake Wheeler and Kevin Porter, a first- and fourthround choice, respectively, by the Coyotes in the 2004 draft, were among 22 players named to the 2006 U.S. National Junior team which will compete Dec. 26 -Jan. 5 at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in British Columbia.