COYOTES DROP 3-2 CONTEST TO MINNESOTA
|Phoenix at Minnesota|
|National TV: OLN,TSN; 8:00 PM EST|
By: Chad Lynch
Photos Credit: Minnesota Wild
In the first minute of action, the Wild had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Minnesota superstar Marian Gaborik broke loose in the Coyotes zone and came down alone on goal, but was stopped on the doorstep by Phoenix goaltender Brian Boucher.
Coyotes forward Mike Comrie took a nasty spill in the corner as the game approached the two-minute mark that sent the Phoenix sniper back to the bench gingerly.
At 3:32 of the first period, the Coyotes went on the first power play of the game when Minnesota's Randy Robitaille was called for hooking. The Coyotes did a god job of working the puck low in the Wild zone and did register a pair of shots on net, but couldn't find a way past netminder Manny Fernandez.
The Wild took their first crack at the man-advantage with 13:50 to play in the first when Tyson Nash was called for roughing. The Minnesota power play would last less than a minute as a call against forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard for interference at 6:54 of the period resulted in four-on-four hockey. After the expiration of Nash's penalty, the Coyotes had a brief power play, but the Wild kept the Coyotes confined to the neutral zone as the first period reached the halfway mark.
Minnesota would take the first lead of the game at 14:22 of the first when the Coyotes inability to keep the puck in the Wild zone resulted in a breakaway for Gaborik, who rushed in an snapped a wrist shot over the glove of Boucher for the 1-0 Minnesota lead.
The Coyotes did a have a pair of power plays late in the period, but the Wild penalty killing unit was able to keep the door closed on the Phoenix offense as the opening period came to a close with Minnesota leading 1-0.
Just seconds after a late penalty from the first period had expired, the Wild were sent back to the box at 1:18 of the second when Pascal Dupuis was called for tripping. The best scoring chance the Coyotes could generate with the extra attacker was an off balance shot from Phoenix defenseman Dennis Seidenberg at the blue line, which was easily gloved by Fernandez.
At 4:29 of the period, the Coyotes went back on the power play as Kurtis Foster of Minnesota was called for hooking Mike Leclerc. This time the Coyotes didn't let the opportunity pass them by as good puck movement along the boards, deep in the Wild zone, resulted in a loose puck on the stick of Geoff Sanderson, who turned to the Minnesota net, was stopped on his initial shot, but poked a rebound past a falling Fernandez to even the score at 1-1, with 5:43 gone by in the second.
With 11:02 to play in the stanza, the Coyotes took another turn at the power play as Kyle Wanvig was called for slashing. But this time the power play would last just 58 seconds as Dave Scatchard made his first trip to the penalty box for hooking, wiping out the Phoenix man-advantage. After the penalty to Wanvig expired, the Coyotes had to kill off nearly a minute of Scatchard's infraction. The Wild nearly made the Coyotes pay for taking their trip to the box, but Boucher made a series a key saves to keep the game tied.
At 13:27 of the second, the Wild finally found a way to beat Boucher as Brian Rolston's blast found a way into the Coyotes net, giving Minnesota back the lead at 2-1.
With just under four and a half minutes left in the period, the Coyotes nearly gave up another goal to the Wild as Boucher left the net to play a puck along the boards, only to miss-play the puck sending it onto the stick of Wild forward Kyle Wanvig in the slot. As Wanvig appeared ready to fire the puck into the empty net, Phoenix forward Mike Johnson, came to the rescue to break up the play and sent the puck into the corner, allowing Boucher to return to the net and get back into position.
With 1:15 to left in the period, Boucher once again came to the rescue as he made a series of big saves, including a highlight stop, sliding across the crease to keep a shot from Rolston out of the net and keep the Coyotes within striking distance.
In the final seconds of the period, Shane Doan absolutely crushed Minnesota's Andrei Zyuzin with a shoulder check along the boards causing Zyuzin's head to slam off the glass, cutting him open above the right eye and sending him to the ice in a pool of blood. Taking exception to the play was the Wild's Willie Mitchell who went after Doan and instigated a fight with the Coyotes captain. The end result would be a power play for the Coyotes as Mitchell incurred the instigator penalty.
The power play would be key for Phoenix as defenseman Keith Ballard sent a wrist shot at the Minnesota net from the right hand boards, which found a way past Fernandez to tie the game with 16 remaining.
The final seconds of the frame would tick away without incident as the two clubs skated of the ice after 40 minutes of play, tied at 2-2.
To start the third period, both clubs took their chances offensively trying to get pressure on the opposing netminders, but neither teams was able to find the go-ahead goal early in the third.
With 13:36 to go play in the finals period, Minnesota's Brian Rolston broke into the Phoenix zone and blasted a slap shot from the top of the right face-off circle that beat Boucher to the top corner, stick side for a 3-2 lead.
Following Rolston's second goal of the contest, the Coyotes began to take more chances offensively to try and build up pressure in the Wild zone and score the equalizer. In their attempt to be more aggressive offensively, they had to be sure and play nearly perfect position defensively to keep Minnesota from generating an odd man rush the other way.
Phoenix caught a break with 5:45 to play in the final period when Minnesota's Nick Shultz was called for delay-of-game after he knocked the Wild net off its posts, giving the Coyotes a crucial power play. Phoenix would make three spirited rushes into the Wild end, but solid netminding by Fernandez and critical clearings by the Wild penalty killers helped keep the Coyotes attack off balance and preserve the 3-2 lead for Minnesota.
With less than a minute to play in the game, the Coyotes pulled Boucher from the net in favor of an extra attacker, but the Wild were determined to keep the Phoenix attack at a distance as the Coyotes dropped the second game of their current road trip by a score of 3-2.