By Jerry Brown | NHL.com Correspondent
GLENDALE -- The Minnesota Wild gave everything they had from everyone who was left on their injury-shortened bench, and it was just enough to squeeze out a rare win in the second half of the season.
Despite starting the game with 17 skaters – including one stricken with the flu – and ending it with just one healthy goalie, the Wild blew a 2-0 lead in the third period but still hung tough and pulled out a 3-2 shootout win over the Coyotes on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Despite the loss, Phoenix (33-25-10), which fell behind 2-0 for the fifth straight game, remained in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, a point ahead of San Jose, but fell three points behind Dallas in the race for the Pacific Division lead and dropped to 0-4-1 in March after going 11-0-1 in February.
"If you want to paint a picture that we didn’t want to see today, that was exactly it: We gave up two quick goals on really unearned chances," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We’re digging ourselves big holes and that doesn’t fit our style whatsoever. We’ve given away points during this last little streak that are just unacceptable for our group."
With a long list of players already out, the Wild had to go with five defensemen when Jared Spurgeon came down with the flu, injured Clayton Stoner was unable to make it through warmups and 2008 first-round pick Tyler Cuma couldn’t get to Phoenix in time after missing a flight from Houston. Flu-stricken winger Devin Setoguchi was running from the bench to the bathroom in the first two periods and then goalie Josh Harding suffered an apparent right knee injury in the second period.
Rookie Matt Hackett, the last healthy goalie in the organization, made 15 saves and three more in the shootout and Dany Heatley scored Minnesota’s third shootout goal in the fifth round as the Wild snapped a five-game winless streak and handed one to the Coyotes (0-4-1) at the same time. Hackett and Harding combined to make 39 saves for Minnesota.
In the last eight days the Coyotes have lost five times including two to the League’s worst team (Columbus) and once to a Minnesota, now 9-22-7 since beating the Coyotes here on Dec. 10 – when they led the other 29 NHL teams by five points.
Phoenix took 71 shots in the game, including 30 that were blocked by the Wild.
The Wild (29-29-10), who capitalized on yet another listless start by Phoenix, grabbed a 2-0 lead with goals 58 seconds apart from Kyle Brodziak and Steven Kampfer early in the first period thanks to a pair of Coyotes mistakes.
Photo by Norm Hall.
From behind his own net, defenseman Keith Yandle put a breakout pass right on the tape of Minnesota’s Darroll Powe, whose shot was deflected by Brodziak past Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera at 4:06. Brodziak’s 15th goal and his third in two games in Glendale this season gave the Wild its lead for the first time in two weeks – since a 3-2 shootout win over Florida on Feb. 23.
Minnesota doubled its lead just 58 seconds later after another Phoenix turnover led to a Minnesota rush and Matt Cullen set up Kampfer – acquired on Feb. 27 from Boston – for a shot that beat LaBarbera to the short side for his first NHL goal.
Phoenix took control of the game from there but couldn’t score in the second period, even after Harding left after making a save during a Coyotes power play. Hackett took over and made big stops on Yandle and Whitney late in the period to keep Phoenix at bay.
The Coyotes had 52 shot attempts in the first two periods before finally breaking through in the third. Rookie defenseman Michael Stone pinched in along the left boards to hold a clearing attempt and centered into the slot to Raffi Torres, who beat Hackett for his 11th goal at 1:40 to break the ice.
Just 1:05 later, Coyotes center Antoine Vermette patiently waited for Lauri Korpikoski to come open between the circles for a pass, and Korpikoski punched it by Hackett to give the Coyotes new life.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
Facing a rookie goalie tending net in his first NHL shootout, the Coyotes appeared to be in good shape after Ray Whitney and Shane Doan scored their shootout goals in the first and fourth rounds, respectively.
But the Wild refused to be denied, and Dany Heatley secured the win with a goal past Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera in the fifth round.
► Click here to see the KEY MOMENT.
• Center Martin Hanzal suffered an upper-body injury late in the first period when he fell awkwardly to the ice after a check. Hanzal left the ice immediately and did not return to the game. His status will be updated after Friday's practice.
• The Coyotes gave up two goals in the first period. In the last nine games, opponents have outscored Phoenix 16-3 in the first 20 minutes.
• Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera made his first start since Feb. 13 and stopped 22 of 24 shots, including all 15 he faced in the last two periods and overtime. No. 1 goalie Mike Smith's streak of consecutive starts ended at 10 games.
• Forward Radim Vrbata took a team-high six shots but saw his goal-less streak reach eight games.
• Center Antoine Vermette notched his first assist with the Coyotes, delivered four hits and won 11 of 18 faceoffs.
• Defenseman Michael Stone assisted on Phoenix's first goal at 1:40 of the third period. It was his first NHL point. Click here to listen to Stone discuss the moment and the game in general.
• The Coyotes played minus injured forward Kyle Chipchura (upper-body) and injured defensemen Rostislav Klesla (upper-body) and David Schlemko (lower-body). The Coyotes also played minus defenseman Derek Morris, who has taken a leave of absence because of a family illness.
• The Coyotes' next game is Saturday vs. the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona Plus and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"We play better with the lead; it's kind of our identity. We're not a team that can score five goals every night so when you're chasing the game the whole night it makes everything a lot more difficult on everybody."
"We got those two quick ones at the start of the third (period) and we just didn't find the third one. We were all over them but it's the score on the board that counts and it was three to two for them."
"I came in cold, so it was tough for me, but the guys really battled and it was a great character win... the five (defensemen) we had out there did an unbelievable job."
• Dec. 31, 2011: PHX 4, MIN 2 • April 7, 2012:
• Dec. 10, 2011: MIN 4, PHX 1
• March 8, 2012: MIN 3, PHX 2 (SO)