The victory was the fifth in succession for the Coyotes (18-11-1), who haven’t lost since the night before Thanksgiving. Ironically, the loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Wild (13-13-3).
“I thought that was an entertaining game,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “There were quite a few chances both ways, the goaltenders made some big saves, we capitalized on a couple of chances and that was the difference in the game. It was a pretty even game. We carried our intensity just about through the whole 60 minutes, which was our goal tonight.”
Neither team scored in the first 30 minutes as Bryzgalov and Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom showed off their skills.
The stalemate ended at 10:30 of the second period when Upshall tapped a nice pass from the right corner by new linemate Peter Mueller past Backstrom as Upshall was knocked backward at the top of the crease by Wild defenseman Nick Schultz.
Forty-four seconds later, Pyatt beat Backstrom with a quick shot from the left circle to cap a slick, nearly rink-long passing exchange between himself, Shane Doan and Keith Yandle.
Bryzgalov made 19 of his saves in the second period. He needed to make just three saves in the third period.
The Coyotes committed seven penalties – including a five-minute fighting major after the game. Their penalty killing again was superb.
Minnesota’s Martin Havlat nearly scored during a third-period power play, but his backhanded shot hit the left post.
"Bryzgalov made some good saves but our power play didn't generate anything tonight," Minnesota Head Coach Todd Richards said. "They were skating and we looked like we were stuck in the mud a little bit.”
Tied 0-0, Coyotes center Matthew Lombardi was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking at 5:40 of the second period. The Wild peppered Bryzgalov with shots during their man advantage and he stopped them all. His best save came 20 seconds into the power play when Wild forward Ante Miettinen ripped a one-timer at him from between the circles and he blocked it with a pad.
• This stat will astound you: The Coyotes are 0 for 18 on power plays during their five-game winning streak. On the flip side, Phoenix has killed 19 of 21 penalties during the same span.
• Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov already has set a career-high for shutouts in a season with four.
• Phoenix last won five games in a row from Dec. 31, 2007, to Jan. 8, 2008.
• Forward Peter Mueller returned to the lineup after missing three straight games. Mueller’s assist on Scottie Upshall’s goal was his first point since Nov. 14.
• The game turned nasty in the third period after Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski delivered a hard check to Minnesota’s Andrew Ebbett in front of the Coyotes bench. Jovanovski was not penalized for the hit, but the Wild didn’t like it. A pushing match immediately followed the blow. After the game but before the teams left the ice, Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler and Wild center James Sheppard swapped punches to better set the mood for the next time these teams play on Jan. 16.
• Forward Petr Prucha had a great chance to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games, but his shot at an empty net in the final minute sailed wide.
"Missing training camp and the first part of the season, I felt like I was a few steps behind. ... I feel like I’m starting to get my legs under me and getting my jump back in my game."
"'(Bryzgalov) is so confident and he makes the game look so easy even when it isn't. He always squares to the puck and guys are always hitting him in the middle of his body. As a shooter, that's so frustrating."
"We weren’t at our sharpest, but we weren’t at our worst either... I think we made it tough on ourselves with some turnovers. Especially on the road, you have to play the puck deep and not turn it over."