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Reichel's Two Sparks Coyotes

With newly acquired Robert Reichel in the lineup, the spark suddenly is back in the Phoenix Coyotes.

Reichel scored two goals in a span of 1:12 of the second period, giving him three goals and five points in three games with Phoenix as the Coyotes defeated the Washington Capitals 4-2 Thursday night.

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  • Mike Stapleton added a goal and an assist, and Keith Tkachuk scored his 32nd goal for Phoenix as the Coyotes improved to 4-1-2 in their last seven games.

    The injury-plagued Capitals, 2-4-1 in their last seven, were playing their first game since trading away Joe Juneau, Craig Berube and team captain Dale Hunter on Tuesday. They are 12 points out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with 11 games remaining.

    The Coyotes, who had the NHL's best record at 17-3-3 through Dec. 12, struggled from Feb. 14 to March 11 when they were 2-11 and their hopes of securing home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs began slipping away.

    That prompted the trade for Reichel, who was acquired Saturday from the New York Islanders for Brad Isbister and a third-round draft choice in 1999.

    "Not only is he dangerous, but because he sees the ice real well and has the quick hands and great playmaking ability, he makes his linemates more dangerous," Coyotes Coach Jim Schoenfeld said.

    "The goals he scored, he showed tremendously quick hands. He gives us two good lines. For teams that are going to play a checking line, it puts them in position where they have to make a decision what line they're going to check."

    Reichel had a chance to record the sixth hat track of his career but was stopped on a penalty shot by goalie Rick Tabaracci in the third period. It was the Coyotes' first penalty shot of the season.

    "It feels very good here," Reichel said. "They give me a chance to play with good players and so far everything is going my way, and the team is winning. Tht's a very good sign right before the playoffs come."

    The Capitals, meanwhile, continue to adjust to new faces and injuries that have plagued them much of the season.

    "We were basically exchanging chance for chance but we couldn't score," Coach Ron Wilson said. "For a while we were all over them, but (goalie Nikolai) Khabilbulin was spectacular.

    "I think our young guys were a little nervous. Guys don't know what the young guys are going to do and I don't think the young guys are familiar enough with what we're doing yet."

    Stapleton gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 17:34 of the first period, when he flipped a shot over Tabaracci's left shoulder.

    Reichel made it 2-0 at 3:20 of the second period when he scored on a rebound after Tabaracci had stopped a shot by Rick Tocchet.

    Tkachuk increased the lead to 4-0 with a short-handed goal on a breakaway at 11:38 of the period.

    James Black scored for Washington with a rebound goal in the second period after Khabibulin stopped Richard Zednik's slap shot.

    Brian Bellows closed the scoring for the Capitals with 7:24 to go.

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