By Dan Myers | NHL.com Correspondent
SAINT PAUL -- Radim Vrbata scored goals on consecutive shifts for the Coyotes as Phoenix defeated the Minnesota Wild, 4-2, on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center to snap a season-high four-game winless drought.
Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves in his first start with Phoenix (19-16-4), including several in the game's latter stages as the Wild pressed hard to score the tying goal.
It was a much-needed team effort by the Coyotes, and Head Coach Dave Tippett was pleased.
"Different players have different roles and some have a little more than others," Tippett said. "But we need everybody to chip in and that's what I thought we had tonight. That's how we have to win."
Both of Vrbata's goals were nifty. His first was a snipe from a sharp angle near the left circle that beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom glove-side high at 4:15 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie.
On his next shift, Vrbata fired a wrist shot over Backstrom (see KEY MOMENT below). The goals were Vrbata's 17th and 18th of the season.
Trailing 3-1 with just over half of the third period remaining, Minnesota's Matt Cullen was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. He took advantage, going crossbar and in to narrow the score at 3-2.
After Cullen's goal, McElhinney took over -- robbing Cal Clutterbuck on a one-timer from the slot with four minutes remaining. Two minutes after that, McElhinney stoned Dany Heatley on a similar play to preserve the one-goal lead. Once trailing by double-digits in shots in the third period, Minnesota pulled Backstrom with just over a minute to play and eventually took a one-shot edge before Ray Whitney's empty-net goal with 18.9 seconds remaining evened the shots at 30-30 and secured the win.
"They got the penalty shot goal, and that really gave them some momentum," Tippett said. "But our guys hung in there, our goaltender gave us some saves we really needed and we got the win."
Minnesota (21-13-6) struck first at 6:19 of the second period, thanks to some hard work by Nick Johnson in front. Johnson jammed at a puck in the crease until it shook loose to a crashing Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who slammed home his eighth of the season.
Following the first goal, the Coyotes controlled play for much of the remainder of the second period. A vast majority of the action took place in front of Backstrom, and if not for him, the Coyotes might have been able to build a lead.
Phoenix tied the score at 15:02 of the second period with some help from Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who returned to the Wild lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
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With Greg Zanon serving a holding penalty, the Coyotes buzzed the net. A pass from the left of Backstrom was deflected high in the air above traffic at the top of the crease. Spurgeon, standing near the left post, tried to bat the puck out of the air and wide -- instead, he accidentally put it into his own net. After a video review, Daymond Langkow was credited with his eighth of the season, tying the score at 1-1.
"That's a Daymond Langkow goal. He gets those all the time," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said with a chuckle. "It was huge for us, not only to score, but to just get some momentum on our power play. The last couple of games, it's almost taken away our momentum, so it was big to get something out of it."
Neither team was especially sharp over the first 20 minutes, as Phoenix outshot Minnesota 10-8 in a period where much of the game was played in the neutral zone. The Coyotes had one opportunity with the man advantage in the first, but the power play yielded no scoring chances.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
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