What a difference a game makes.
The Coyotes proved how much just one game means this year in the Western Conference with their win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
The two sides played to a scoreless first, with the Coyotes holding a slight 8-7 edge in shots. The shot totals escalated in the second, with Calgary outshooting the hometown Yotes 19-15.
Only one shot would matter, though, in that period. It was Brett MacLean's second career goal. Playing with the "kid line" of Mikkel Boedker and Kyle Turris, MacLean took a pass from Boedker and quickly put it past Calgary goaltender Henrik Karlsson.
Early in the third, the Coyotes would strike again, this time from Eric Belanger. With the Calgary d-men sliding in front of him, Belanger flicked a wrister past Karlsson for the 2-0 lead.
With under two to play, Shane Doan added the empty netter to put the exclamation point on the 3-0 Yotes win.
The night belonged to Ilya Bryzgalov, though. The big Russian was at the top of his game, turning aside all 39 Calgary shots to earn his sixth shutout of the year.
With the win, the Coyotes jump from the cusp of contention, in eighth, to a tie for fourth, with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks, who are 2-0-1 against the Yotes this season, hold the tiebreaker against Phoenix.
It doesn't get any easier for the Yotes, when they visit the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, a team also jockeying for playoff position.