COYOTES FALL TO MINNESOTA 6-4
|Minnesota at Phoenix|
By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
Geoff Sanderson continued his mastery of the Minnesota Wild but it wasn't enough as Wes Walz recorded two goals, registered two assists and Marian Gaborik scored twice to hand the Phoenix Coyotes a 6-4 loss at Glendale Arena.
"I thought we were pretty good but once again a couple of breakdowns hurt us," said Sanderson, who has 14 goals and six assists in 15 career games against the Wild. "We haven't made any ground (during the homestand) but we're not out of it. We had a chance to get within four points of Edmonton tonight and we couldn't do it. But it's not over."
Mike Comrie and Mike Ricci also scored for the Coyotes, who remain six points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix drops to 2-2-1 on the current franchise-record 10-game homestand.
"The statistics don't lie," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "This group will dictate over the next few games how we are in the standings."
"We will continue to stick together and battle through this and if we continue to battle hard we'll get some results," said Ricci, who scored in the second period to record his 600th career NHL point. "Points and milestones don't really mean that much. We are in the playoff race and that means a lot more."
Minnesota leaped over Phoenix in the conference standings with the win and won the season series 3-1.
"It was a very big win," said Gaborik. "We battled towards the end, got some breaks and scored some goals."
Todd White and Gaborik connected back-to-back in a 47 second span to give Minnesota a 4-1 lead in the second period. White scored on the power play from the left face-off circle after receiving a quick cross ice pass from Kurtis Foster. Gaborik scored his second goal of the game with a swift wrist shot that beat Curtis Joseph to the glove hand side.
Sanderson scored his first goal of the game with 59 seconds left in the second period. After numerous rebound attempts, Sanderson capitalized on the rebound attempt to score his first goal since January 24, 2006 at Minnesota.
The Coyotes appeared to be on the comeback trail when Sanderson notched his second goal of the game. But with 7:11 left in regulation, Walz countered for Minnesota on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play.
Mike Comrie brought Phoenix to within a goal in the third period but Pierre-Marc Bouchard countered for Minnesota minutes later on a fluky goal past Philippe Sauve, who replaced Joseph during the second intermission.
"Anytime we started to generate any kind of momentum they got a goal on us," said Sanderson. "It was very frustrating."
"We couldn't quite get it done again," said Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard. "We gave them too many chances and whatever chances we gave them they were pretty quality chances. They did a good job of taking advantage of that."
Defenseman Denis Gauthier and centers Boyd Devereaux and Jamie Lundmark were scratches for Phoenix. They joined Ladislav Nagy, who was lost for the remainder of the regular season after undergoing an arthroscopic knee surgery.
Pavel Brendl played made his debut with the Coyotes after being recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, the Coyotes' top minor league affiliate. Since joining San Antonio on Dec. 28, the 24-year-old Brendl has collected seven goals and 14 points in only 13 games with the Rampage. The Coyotes acquired Brendl from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Krystofer Kolanos.
The Coyotes will return to Glendale Arena on Tuesday night to host the Chicago Blackhawks. The game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on OLN. Fans can also catch all the action on KDUS-1060AM, KDKB-93.3FM or on phoenixcoyotes.com by click ing on the "Listen Live" link in the Game Day section.