GLENDALE, Ariz. - Two goals in a span of 25 seconds near the end of the second period by Zbynek Michalek and Olli Jokinen sparked the Coyotes to a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.
“To get a win like this is imperative,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “It tightens everything up in the conference and gets us right back in the middle of the race. It was a nice victory.”
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made 30 saves while newcomer Joakim Lindstrom scored his first goal in a Coyotes sweater to give Phoenix its first win over the Wild in the last 10 games.
“It’s been the ‘A’ game for us the last couple nights and Bryz has been unbelievable,” said Jokinen, who has three goals in his past two games since returning from injury. “He gives us a chance to win. It’s a big two points and we keep climbing up in the standings.”
Bryzgalov made 21 saves through the first two periods as the Coyotes built a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.
“I played tonight much better than I played in Chicago and Dallas,” said Bryzgalov, who is 10-11-1 this season.
Michalek’s blast from the blue line past Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead with 27 seconds left in the second period.
Jokinen added to the lead just before the intermission. On a two-on-one rush, Peter Mueller fed a saucer pass to Jokinen, who put the puck past Backstrom with 1.8 seconds left in the period.
“Peter (Mueller) made a world-class pass and it was easy to put it in,” Jokinen said.
Gretzky said those two goals gave the Coyotes confidence it needed to beat a team it has struggled againsst.
“It was imperative to get a lead tonight,” Gretzky said. “Had we fallen behind to this team again, it could have been tough ground to make up because we have had to come from behind so many times against them.”
Making difficult saves with relative ease all night, Bryzgalov continued in the third period allowing just a single goal to the Wild’s Antti Miettinen at 8:25.
“Bryz played unbelievable for us,” said Michalek, who led the Coyotes in ice-time with 22:37. “They had really good chances, a few power plays and he was just great and got us going.”
Lindstrom, playing in his second game with Phoenix, scored his fifth career goal on a nice redirection of a Steven Reinprecht shot early in the third period. The puck went in and out of the net so quickly that the referees didn’t see the goal. A brief review confirmed the score, and the Coyotes lead 3-0.
“I was pretty sure it went in right away because I heard the sound of the back bar,” said Lindstrom, whom Phoenix acquired in trade with Anaheim this month.
To get a win like this is imperative. It tightens everything up in the conference and gets us right back in the middle of the race. It was a nice victory.- Wayne Gretzky
Thursday night was Phoenix's first victory over the Wild since Nov. 16, 2006, a span of 755 days.
“It’s been a while since we beat them,” Michalek said. “We believe this is a team we can beat and we proved it tonight. It feels really good.”
In the last game between these teams, the Coyotes allowed four power-play goals in a 4-0 loss in Minnesota. The Coyotes made some changes on Thursday night that counteracted the league’s second-best power play and the Wild went 0 for 5.
• The Coyotes outhit the Wild 26-19.
• Phoenix is 7-0 in two-goal games and 10-0-1 when leading after the second period.
• Miettinen’s goal was the first goal the Coyotes have allowed in the final period in the past six games. In that same span, Phoenix has scored nine goals.
• Coyotes forward Daniel Carcillo played in his 100th career NHL game on Thursday.
• For the second consecutive game, the Coyotes won the battles in the face-off circles, winning 31 of 61 draws.
• In their past eight games, the Coyotes penalty-kill unit is 32 for 36 (88.9 percent).
• Minnesota's goal was its first in 144:58 dating to its game against the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 5.