Dave Vest | Anthony Perez GLENDALE – Andrew Brunette scored two goals to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 victory over the Coyotes on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena in the first game of a two-game homestand for Phoenix before a lengthy trip east.
Taylor Pyatt scored both goals for the Coyotes (13-8-6), but they weren't enough as the Wild ended a five-game losing streak dating to Nov. 26 and beat the Coyotes for the first time in the past six meetings between the teams.
Brunette gave Minnesota (12-11-4) an early lead when his backhanded shot beat Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and hit the top of the net at the 6:52 mark of the first period to cap a two-on-one rush.
The Coyotes tied the score 1-1 at the 14:33 mark of the period when rookie Oliver Ekman-Larsson fed a pass to the front of the net that found Pyatt, who one-timed it past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom for his fifth goal of the season.
Minnesota reseized the momentum late in the first period when defenseman Brent Burns snuck deep into the offensive zone and notched his seventh tally of the season at 19:04 (see KEY MOMENT below).
After both teams combined for 21 shots in a scoreless second period, Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin was sent to the penalty box for holding the stick at the 10:39 mark of the third period. Brunette scored his second goal of the night with a wrist shot that beat Bryzgalov just 11 seconds into the power play.
After Minnesota’s Cam Barker was called for tripping at the 17:42 mark of the third period, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett pulled Bryzgalov for an extra skater and it paid off when Pyatt scored his second goal of the night, on the power play, in the closing minute to make it a one-goal game.
The Coyotes pulled Bryzgalov again after the ensuing faceoff but were unable to get another goal and complete the rally.
"I didn’t think we competed hard enough," Tippett said. "They played a very solid road game. They played a very disciplined game and it’s a game they make you earn everything you get, and we didn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve to win that game. We didn’t have enough players get in the trenches and deserve to win it. You can win games different ways where you have a great play by an individual, or a line might play well. The fact that we couldn’t draw a penalty in the game until late in the game, to me that’s just a clear indication that you’re not getting to the net hard enough, you’re not doing enough, and that’s the way the game went."
Backstrom stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced to pick up his ninth win of the season, while Bryzgalov stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in the losing effort.
With the score knotted at 1 late in the first period, Wild forward Antti Miettinen slid a pass from the left corner to defenseman Brent Burns at the top of the crease. Burns, who was blanketed by Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and winger Ray Whitney, stood his ground and muscled the puck past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with 56 seconds left before the first intermission.
• Rookie defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson returned to the lineup after being recalled from the American Hockey League on Tuesday. Ekman-Larsson, who was paired with Sami Lepisto, logged 15:47 of ice time, delivered four hits and assisted on Taylor Pyatt's goal in the first period.
• Forward Taylor Pyatt has scored five goals in the past eight games after scoring just one goal in his first 19 games. That one goal came in the season opener vs. Boston on Oct. 9 in Prague.
• The Coyotes' next game is on Saturday vs. the Dallas Stars 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).
"(We) came out a little bit flat at home. It seemed like a couple of times we were going to battle back in the game, but it just didn’t happen. It’s definitely a disappointing game for us here at home."
"We knew the first period was going to be big and they won it. Once they get the lead they play well in the neutral zone and they don't give you a lot of opportunities. We never got it going the way we wanted to."
"It’s a big win for our team starting a tough road trip. It’s big to get that first win and get some confidence. The way we played that full 60 minutes, we played a smart, tactical game."
• Dec. 1, 2010: PHX 4, MIN 2
• Jan. 2, 2011:
• Dec. 9, 2010: MIN 3, PHX 2 • Feb. 5, 2011:
1 - 0 MIN
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 MIN
3 - 1 MIN
3 - 2 MIN
Closing hand on puck
Holding the stick