By Dave Vest
SAINT PAUL --
The Coyotes just keep on rolling.
, Matthew Lombardi and Radim Vrbata
scored goals on Wednesday night to lead Phoenix to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. Hanzal and Vrbata also chipped in an assist.
The victory was the Coyotes' eighth in their past nine games and upped their point total to 79 after 61 games. A year ago, Phoenix earned 79 points all season.
"We have good ability as a group and we play very hard togther, and games like tonight are a good indicator of that," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We hang around a game against a desperate team and find a way to win. That's kind of been our MO all year."
Coyotes goalie Ilya Brzygalov made 29 saves to post his fourth win over Minnesota this season and up his victory total to 32. That is one win shy of the franchise record for wins by a goalie in a season.
The Wild, who hadn’t lost a home game in regulation since Jan. 2, dominated the first five minutes and took a 1-0 lead at 4:46 when Guillaume Latendresse poked a rebound past Bryzgalov from the top of the crease.
The Coyotes, however, didn’t panic and slowly but surely took control of the game by scoring the next three goals - one in each period.
Hanzal’s one-timer from the left circle tied the score at 12:02 of the first period. Lombardi gave Phoenix a 2-1 lead when he notched his third goal in the past two games at 2:08 of the second period after a nice pass by Shane Doan
. And Vrbata netted his team-high 20th goal at 5:41 of the third period. (see KEY MOMENT below).
Wild forward Martin Havlat made things interesting by scoring a goal with 2:28 left in the third period, but the Coyotes held on and swept the season series vs. the Wild for the first time since Minnesota entered the NHL in 2000.
"We're looking to make that extra-pretty pass, looking for the empty net," Wild Head Coach Todd Richards said. "We have to be a team that shoots the puck and goes to the net."
Leading 2-1, Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata
scored his team-high 20th goal from a tricky angle early in the third period. Positioned in the left corner, Vrbata flicked the puck toward traffic near the crease. In a stroke of good fortune, Vrbata's pass hit Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom on his right side, spun off him and slid into the goal. The puck was spinning so much that it left the goal and slid back into the crease.
• Captain Shane Doan
, who is nursing an upper-body injury, played 18:32. Center Vernon Fiddler
, who also is nursing an upper-body injury, played 14:52 and won 13 of 21 faceoffs.
• Phoenix upped its record to an NHL-best 21-4-5 in one-goal games and to 9-4-0 vs. teams from the Northwest Division. The Coyotes play at Northwest Division-leading Colorado on Friday.
• Center Martin Hanzal
scored his first goal since Jan. 5 at Edmonton, a span of 16 games.
• Forward Lauri Korpikoski
returned to the lineup after missing Monday's game because of flu-like symptoms Korpikoski believes were triggered by food poisoning. Korpikoski, who centered a line with wingers Peter Mueller and Mikkel Boedker
, played 13:08 and took three shots on goal.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
, Jeff Hoggan and Anders Eriksson. The Wild scratched Josh Harding, James Sheppard and John Scott.