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NHL Power Rankings: Desert dogs stalking the leaders

Backed by the impressive play of rookie goalie Louis Domingue, the Arizona Coyotes jumped 13 spots into the top 5 of this week‘s NHL Power Rankings.

So it turns out that there’s more to the Coyotes than All-Star captain John Scott. The Desert Dogs are playing their best hockey in two years and their 4-0-1 streak has vaulted them into this week's top-five. Rookie goalie Louis Domingue is drawing a lot of attention, posting a 1.58 GAA and a .952 save percentage during this hot streak. So is winger Tobias Rieder, who chipped in two goals and an assist in Saturday's 4-0 win over Nashville. That game marked the first of seven straight to be played at Gila River Arena, a key stretch that could see the Yotes put some ground between themselves and their pursuers in the Pacific Division playoff race.

Biggest jump: Arizona Coyotes (18 to 5)

Biggest drop: Nashville Predators (14 to 26)

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1. Florida Panthers


RECORD: 26-12-5

All good things must come to an end, including franchise-record winning streaks. The Panthers stretched theirs to 12 games before finally dropping one in OT to Vancouver on Monday night. They outscored their opponents 40-15 during the month-long run that saw them turn an 11-point Atlantic Division deficit into a six-point lead. Now the real work begins. Last week: 3-0-1

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2. Washington Capitals


RECORD: 32-7-3

The Caps are humming again after a brief stumble, winning four straight to take over top spot in the league. Congrats to Alex Ovechkin, who scored five goals on the week, including the 500th of his career. While the milestone generated headlines, he really deserves acclaim for his commitment to playing a more complete game. Ovi has become a more effective player this season than at any point in his illustrious career. Last week: 3-0-0

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3. Chicago Blackhawks


RECORD: 27-13-4

January hasn't been kind to the Blackhawks in recent years. They went 5-7-1 in 2014-15 and 5-3-6 the year before that. This year, though? They already have five wins in the bank and are primed to make this their best January in franchise history. Their current seven-game winning streak has pulled them to within spitting distance of the first-place Stars. Last week: 3-0-0

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4. Los Angeles Kings


RECORD: 27-12-3

Looks like Anze Kopitar has put his slow start behind him. With a four-point effort against the Red Wings on Monday night he now has three goals and 15 points in the nine games he’s played since Christmas. Last week: 2-0-1

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5. arizona Coyotes


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RECORD: 21-16-4

Make it three straight wins for the Coyotes, whose 7-1-2 run has given them some breathing room in the race for a Pacific Division playoff spot. Goalie Louis Domingue continues to impress, going 6-0-2 with a .947 save percentage and two shutouts in eight starts, including a 26-save whitewashing of the Predators on Saturday night. He’s allowed just three goals in his past three games, dropping his GAA to 2.06. Last week: 2-0-0

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6. Pittsburgh Penguins


RECORD: 20-16-5

The Pens are back on track, and special teams are playing a big part in that. The penalty kill has been huge, killing off 25 consecutive opportunities to move up to fifth in the league rankings. The power play has been nearly as good, going 11-for-32 and counting at least once in eight of Pittsburgh’s past 10 games. Last week: 1-1-1

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7. Colorado Avalanche


RECORD: 21-19-3

The Avs finished off their five-game homestand by winning three straight—not bad for a team that had a conference-low six victories on home ice coming into it. Knocking off the Preds and Blues moved them to 9-3-1 against the Central, the best record within the division. Last week: 2-1-0

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8. Dallas Stars


RECORD: 29-11-4

After a brutal stretch that saw them play nine games in 15 days, the Stars look like a team that is feeling its schedule. They’ve dropped four of their past five games, dogged by defensive breakdowns and flagging intensity. Good stretch for Patrick Sharp, though. The veteran winger has put up points in 12 straight, one off the franchise record. Last week: 1-2-0

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9. Detroit Red Wings


RECORD: 22-14-7

It's been a tough run for Jimmy Howard, who dropped his fifth consecutive decision on Monday night in Los Angeles. The veteran goaltender hasn’t necessarily been bad—three of those losses came in overtime—but he hasn’t done enough to force coach Jeff Blashill to start him more often, either. With Petr Mrazek playing well and a playoff spot to be earned, Howard could easily become an afterthought in the second half. Last week: 2-1-0

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10. Minnesota Wild


RECORD: 22-12-8

The Wild got one monkey off their backs last week, finally holding on to a lead long enough to beat the hated Stars. Now they need to work on a power play that’s clicked just once in its past 22 chances. Not a lot of confidence on that unit lately. Last week: 2-1-1

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11. Tampa Bay Lightning


RECORD: 21-17-4

Is anyone having a more quietly great season than Nikita Kucherov? The 22-year-old has emerged as Tampa's most consistent offensive weapon, getting on the scoresheet in 13 of the team's past 16 games. He has 10 goals over that stretch, and now leads the team with 33 points. Last week: 2-1-0

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12. St. Louis Blues


RECORD: 24-14-7

If your phone rings while you’re reading this, you’d better pick it up—it might be the Blues calling. St. Louis is desperate for reinforcements after losing Jake Allen (lower body), Paul Stastny (upper), Carl Gunnarsson (upper), Jay Bouwmeester (upper) and Magnus Paajarvi (upper) in the last week alone. It’s to their credit then that they've managed to drag four consecutive opponents to extra time. Last week: 1-0-2

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13. New York Rangers


RECORD: 23-14-5

Don't go to sleep on the Rangers in the third period. New York has scored eight goals in the final frame over its last three games, including a pair to beat the Bruins in Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Blueshirts now have 50 third period tallies for the season, third most in the league. Last week: 2-0-1

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14. Calgary Flames


RECORD: 19-20-2

Gary Bettman was in town this week, giving Calgary’s politicians the “pay up, or else” line in an effort to move the chains on the team’s new stadium project. Probably not the best approach at a time when the city’s chief industry—oil—is in the tank, but he had to do something to drum up support for the project. You might want to load up on popcorn, sit back and watch as the reaction from the local population rolls in. Last week: 1-2-0

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15. Anaheim Ducks


RECORD: 17-17-7

Has any player hurt his team with ill-conceived passes more often this season than Ryan Getzlaf? The captain had another vapor-lock moment on Sunday, handing the puck to Detroit’s Riley Sheahan for the deciding goal in 2–1 loss to the Wings. His poor decisions have led directly to at least three OT losses as well this season. Last week: 1-2-0

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16. Vancouver Canucks


RECORD: 17-16-10

The Canucks are finding a nice rhythm of late, collecting points in eight of their past 10 games. Jacob Markstrom is proving himself a capable NHL goaltender in relief of Ryan Miller, going 3-1-1 with a .926 save percentage since Jan. 1. Last week: 2-0-1

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17. New York Islanders


RECORD: 22-15-5

Looks like Travis Hamonic pre-season trade request is officially on hold. The young vet is out 2-3 weeks with an ankle injury, joining Johnny Boychuk (shoulder) on the sidelines. The Isles recalled Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech to fill in on a blueline that’s coughed up 19 goals over the past four games. Good luck, boys! Last week: 0-2-0

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18. Carolina Hurricanes


RECORD: 18-18-7

You gotta beat the teams you’re supposed to beat and the Canes did exactly that last week, sweeping a home-and-home with the Blue Jackets. The defense, led by the steadily improving Justin Faulk, continues to impress, allowing just eight regulation goals in five games so far in January. Cam Ward has held the opposition to a single goal in five of his past eight starts. Last week: 2-1-0

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19. New Jersey Devils


RECORD: 21-17-5

They snapped their three-game losing streak with a win over the Wild, but you have to wonder how much longer they’ll keep dropping their bucket down a dry well. The Devils have been held to just six regulation goals in their past five games. Their luck’s not likely to change any time soon with leading scorer Mike Cammalleri (upper body) on IR indefinitely. Last week: 1-2-0

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20. San Jose Sharks


RECORD: 20-18-2

Coach Pete DeBoer said on Friday that he was looking for more production. His team delivered, scoring 12 times in wins over Toronto and Calgary. Defenseman Brent Burns is on a tear, with six goals and 11 points to show for a scoring streak that stands at seven games. Last week: 2-1-0

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21. Montreal Canadiens


RECORD: 23-17-3

Another wasted week for the hapless Habs, who fell to 5-13 since the beginning of December after losses to the Flyers and Penguins. They’ve managed to score as many as three goals just three times in that span, and are averaging a mere 1.89 per game. With their hold on a playoff spot slipping away, the pressure is on GM Marc Bergevin to shake up his roster. Last week: 1-2-0

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22. Philadelphia Flyers


RECORD: 18-15-7

The league’s 29th-rated offense kicked it into high gear last week, scoring four times in three consecutive games. The explosion rocketed the Flyers up the charts, all the way to … 28th. Hey, baby steps, am I right? Nice to see Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux together again and flashing that old chemistry. Last week: 3-0-0

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23. Toronto Maple Leafs


RECORD: 16-17-7

The Leafs showed off their improving commitment to defense in splitting a pair of games in SoCal and then completely forgot about their own end of the ice in a 7–0 loss to the Sharks. Hey, no one said this rebuilding thing was going to come together overnight. Last week: 1-2-0

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24. Ottawa Senators


RECORD: 20-17-6

Where's the character? The Sens haven’t managed to string together consecutive victories in more than a month (a 17-game stretch during which they’ve won just six times). They failed again to build on Saturday’s win over the Bruins, doing everything but asking for run time in a 7–1 loss to the Caps. Another tough night for goalie Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond, who has gotten his buns toasted while losing four of his last five outings. Last week: 1-2-0

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25. Boston Bruins


RECORD: 21-15-5

With seven losses in their past nine, the Bruins hit the midway point of the season on pace for 94 points. That’s a bit of a problem since 96 didn’t get them invited to the dance last season. The offense is struggling to find consistency without David Krejci’s top-six presence, generating just eight goals over the past five games. Last week: 1-2-1

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26. Nashville Predators


RECORD: 19-16-7

He paid a hefty price, but GM David Poile finally got the franchise center he’d “been waiting 18 years” to acquire in Ryan Johansen. The big pivot paid immediate dividends, scoring on his first shot as a Pred, but he can’t fix what ails this group overnight. Nashville dropped three straight last week and continues to give up valuable ground in the Central. Last week: 0-0-3

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27. Winnipeg Jets


RECORD: 19-20-3

Pulling three points out of road games in Nashville and Dallas is no small feat, especially for a team that entered the week 3-10 against its Central Division bunkmates. But unless they start winning the games they’re supposed to, like that home contest against a Sabres team that had dropped six straight, the Jets will remain a playoff afterthought. Last week: 1-1-1

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28. Buffalo Sabres


RECORD: 16-22-4

Their six-game losing streak finally came to an end in Winnipeg, powered by the first career hat trick by Sam Reinhart. Gotta find joy in personal victories because the team wins are still too few and far between. Last week: 1-2-0

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29. Columbus Blue Jackets


RECORD: 15-24-4

All right, so the early returns haven”t been so great—outscored 8-4 in back-to-back losses to the Hurricanes—but the trade to bring in defenseman Seth Jones was always about the long game. Give him some time to get acclimated to John Tortorella’s system and he’ll be dynamite. Last week: 0-3-0

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30. Edmonton Oilers


RECORD: 17-23-3

Tough week for the Oilers, who were kneecapped by three brutal bounces in Friday’s 3–2 loss to the Lightning, then couldn’t get a result despite outplaying the Panthers by a decent margin in a 2–1 defeat on Sunday. With just two wins to show for their past eight games, their hopes are fading fast. Last week: 0-2-0