Wild 4, Coyotes 1
By Associated Press
GLENDALE – Kyle Brodziak scored twice, Niklas Backstrom returned from a three-game absence to make 35 saves and the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild beat the Coyotes, 4-1, on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Lauri Korpikoski scored a cosmetic goal for the Coyotes (15-11-3), who slid from first to second place in the Pacific Division standings behind the Dallas Stars.
The Wild (20-7-3) have won a franchise-record seven road games in a row, and seven straight games overall.
"I continue to use the word `impressed' but I am," Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "To see a group like that come in and have a start like that, I was impressed."
Dany Heatley also scored and Mikko Koivu added a goal and an assist for Minnesota.
"It wasn't as if we didn't try," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "I mean, we had a lot of guys try hard. But trying is one thing. It's what you do after the trying that counts and their opportunities counted and ours didn't."
Brodziak struck early, tucking home a rebound off Mike Smith's glove for a power-play goal at 2:08 of the first period - just five seconds after Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was sent off for hi-sticking.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Wild made the score 2-0 on their first shot of the second period when Koivu scored his seventh goal of the season (see KEY MOMENT below).
Brodziak scored another power-play goal at 11:43 of the second, scooping up a loose puck to the right of the net and beating Smith with a wraparound for his 10th goal.
Heatley made the score 4-0 with 8:37 remaining, tipping Jared Spurgeon's shot from the left point past Smith for his ninth goal and the Wild's third power-play goal in four opportunities.
Smith stopped 16 of the 20 shots he faced and lost for the fourth time in five December starts.
"You have to make saves and give the team a chance to win," Smith said. "I thought we weren’t that bad and we competed hard like we have been. My game wasn’t where it has to be ... All four of those goals that went in tonight shouldn’t have."
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
Leading 1-0, Wild forward Jeff Taffe, who had two tours with the Coyotes earlier in his career, carried the puck down the right side early in the second period. Once he reached the Phoenix zone, Taffe slid the puck to Wild captain Mikko Koivu in the slot and in-stride for a one-timer that beat Coyotes goalie Mike Smith
► Click here
to watch the KEY MOMENT
• Forward Lauri Korpikoski
ended a nine-game goal-scoring drought at 16:03 of the third period. It was Korpikoski's first goal since Nov. 21 when he scored two at Washington.
• Defenseman Rostislav Klesla
, who has missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury suffered on Dec. 3 vs. Philadelphia, skated on his own on Saturday and is expected to practice with teammates on Monday.
• The Coyotes won 32 of 51 faceoffs (63 percent). Center Martin Hanzal
won 13 of 21 draws, center Boyd Gordon
won 7 of 9, and center Daymond Langkow
won 7 of 10.
• Phoenix's penalty-kill unit has struggled in the last five games. Including the three allowed Saturday, the Coyotes have surrendered eight power-play goals in 18 chances over that span after allowing only eight in the first 25 games of the season.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
and Cal O'Reilly
• The Coyotes' next game is Wednesday vs. Anaheim at the Honda Center. The puck drops at 8 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
||"There is an old saying that says ‘Your goaltender can win and lose hockey games' and tonight I lost it for the team. It's as simple as that. The past week hasn't been very good so I have to find a way to get out of this funk and get back to the way I was playing before."
||"It's not rocket science that when your power play has been as bad as ours … we have to get better. Our PK has been phenomenal for us all year, but it was a battle of special teams tonight and they won it."
||"It feels good to help contribute, but that's just a product of what we're doing. The way everyone is playing just makes it easier for all of us. It's fun hockey to play and there is a lot of belief in the room that we're for real."
|Three star selections