By Dan Myers | NHL.com Correspondent
SAINT PAUL -- Needing a fifth straight victory to capture their first division title in franchise history, Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center, the Coyotes left no doubt.
Forward Taylor Pyatt scored two goals and goalie Mike Smith stopped 23 shots to lead Phoenix to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
The victory secured the Pacific Division title and assured the Coyotes of the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Phoenix will play No. 6 seed Chicago when the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence next week.
"This feels good," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "Winning your division is one thing, but the key to winning your division is you get home ice in the first round. We've worked hard, gone through some trials and tribulations throughout this year and the guys have hung in there.
He added, "There was some times when it could have turned the other way and our guys grabbed it and kept pushing along. We've finished on a nice streak and hopefully we'll play our best hockey of the season in the playoffs."
Phoenix finished the regular season with a 42-27-13 record.
► Click here to see the NHL's final regular-season standings.
"It feels really special because you feel like when you get drafted by a team and brought in by a team that you have a job to do and your job is to win," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who was drafted by the franchise in the first round in 1995 and has been with the Coyotes/Jets his entire career. "We were able to get one banner up. It only took 17 years, that's not bad. But it's nice to have something."
Against the Wild, Phoenix dominated the game from the opening puck drop, outshooting the Wild 11-4 in the first period and scoring a pair of goals to open a 2-0 lead after one period. Mikkel Boedker's 11th goal of the season slipped through Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom just 5:34 in to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
Pyatt's blast from the slot eight minutes later ended up being the game-winning goal.
In the second period, Minnesota briefly got back into the game when a shot from behind the net by Dany Heatley bounced off Smith's leg and in to make the score 2-1 at 13:53.
But the shift in momentum was short-lived.
Just 31 seconds later, Pyatt scored his second goal of the night from the right post when he jammed home his own rebound to re-establish the two-goal cushion.
Photo by Getty Images.
"That was big," Smith said. ".. I think it took the wind out of their sails."
Less than two minutes into the third, Phoenix grabbed a cozy three-goal advantage when Ray Whitney connected on a long pass to Radim Vrbata, who cranked a slap shot past Backstrom to make it 4-1.
The Coyotes cruised from there, as the Wild committed a series of penalties and could never seem to get on track.
Smith was strong in goal once again, allowing the Wild few rebound opportunities and shutting the door on the few quality chances Minnesota had.
"He's embraced the No. 1 goaltender role with our team and he's played excellent," Tippett said. "He had a few games there where he was basically willing us into the playoffs. His game is top-notch right now. Hopefully it goes into the playoffs and that continues."
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
The Coyotes entered the National Hockey League in 1979 as the Winnipeg Jets. The team, of course, moved to Phoenix in 1996.
In all that time, the franchise never won a division title. That changed when the final horn blew on Saturday night after the Coyotes beat Minnesota 4-1.
► Click here to see the KEY MOMENT.
• Coyotes fans can tune into the NHL Network or visit NHL.com on Sunday at 10 a.m. (Arizona time) as the League unveils the schedule for the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
• Forward Taylor Pyatt, who hadn't scored a goal since Feb. 9, scored two goals in a game for the first time since coring twice at Colorado on Jan. 6, 2011.
• Forward Radim Vrbata scored his 35th goal of the season. The Coyotes finished the season 21-4-3 in the games in which Vrbata scored a goal.
• Defenseman Adrian Aucoin missed a second consecutive game because of a minor injury. He is considered day-to-day.
• During the team's' five-game win streak, goalie Mike Smith played in all five games and stopped 190 of 192 shots. Saturday's win was his 38th of the season -- fourth best in the League. Smith chipped in offensively, too, by assisting on Radim Vrbata's goal in the third period.