Associated Press ST. PAUL –Scottie Upshall scored two goals and backup goalie Jason LaBarbera, making his first start in three weeks, stopped 33 of 35 shots to lead the Coyotes to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild spent six of the first seven minutes on power plays but couldn't put together any kind of a push, and lost for the fifth time in six games following a three-game winning streak.
"Our penalty killing needs some work, I guess," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett quipped after the game. "... We weathered the storm."
Matt Cullen's first even-strength goal of the season, a punch-in from the crease with 7:37 left in the third period after Patrick O'Sullivan's weaving and shovel shot put LaBarbera in a bad spot, ended a scoreless stretch of 118 minutes, 15 seconds for the Wild and cut the deficit to 2-1.
After Upshall's second goal - a shot that appeared to hit Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky's hand - LaBarbera gave one back. Mikko Koivu scored on a quick turnaround shot from a behind-the-net pass with 1:06 left to make the score 3-2.
Photo by Getty Images.
But Lauri Korpikoski sealed a favorable outcome for the Coyotes (12-7-5) with an empty-netter at 19:30.
Coyotes forward Ray Whitney was called for hooking just 34 seconds into the game. Then, less than three minutes later, Vernon Fiddler took high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls to give the Wild a four-minute power play.
Tippett was caught by a TV camera shaking his head with a disturbed look on his face, but his team emerged from the extended penalty kill unscathed and took the lead in the final minute of the first period when defenseman Ed Jovanovski knocked in a slap shot by Adrian Aucoin through traffic.
Upshall's first goal (see KEY MOMENT below) gave Phoenix a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard returned to the lineup for the Wild (11-11-2) after a 104-game absence, the product of lingering post-concussion symptoms, but his presence didn't give the home team much of a spark.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com contributed to this recap.
Leading 1-0, Coyotes captain Shane Doan - who has five assists in his last four games - streaked up the left side and made a cross-ice pass with his backhand to a trailing Scottie Upshall with two Wild skaters trying to converge.
Upshall wound up from top of the right circle and zipped the puck past Jose Theodore for a 2-0 lead at 5:43 of the second period.
• The Coyotes flew back to Arizona immediately after the game. Phoenix's next game is on Saturday vs. the Florida Panthers at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"I was like, 'What the hell are we doing?' We talked before the game about not taking penalties against these guys, and five minutes in we're down (three) penalties. Sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise."
"It was a big win for our team after coming off a loss yesterday.
Everyone contributed tonight. (Jason) LaBarbera played a great game for us."
"I felt all right. For sure I would've liked to start with a win. Personally it was good to be back out there. I was a little excited, a little nervous."
• Dec. 1, 2010: PHX 4, MIN 2
• Jan. 2, 2011:
• Dec. 9, 2010: • Feb. 5, 2011:
1 - 0 PHX
2 - 0 PHX
2 - 1 PHX
3 - 1 PHX