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game recap

Coyotes 4, Wild 2

Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 6:52 PM
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Coyotes 4, Wild 2
Phoenix Coyotes 4, Minnesota Wild 2
Three Stars of the Game
Radim Vrbata
1st
Radim Vrbata
RW
G: 2Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 3TOI: 17:55
Matt Cullen
2nd
Matt Cullen
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 19:11
Pierre-Marc Bouchard
3rd
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 18:33

By Dan Myers | NHL.com Correspondent
SAINT PAUL -- Radim Vrbata scored goals on consecutive shifts for the Coyotes as Phoenix defeated the Minnesota Wild, 4-2, on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center to snap a season-high four-game winless drought.

Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves in his first start with Phoenix (19-16-4), including several in the game's latter stages as the Wild pressed hard to score the tying goal.

It was a much-needed team effort by the Coyotes, and Head Coach Dave Tippett was pleased.

"Different players have different roles and some have a little more than others," Tippett said. "But we need everybody to chip in and that's what I thought we had tonight. That's how we have to win."

Both of Vrbata's goals were nifty. His first was a snipe from a sharp angle near the left circle that beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom glove-side high at 4:15 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie.

On his next shift, Vrbata fired a wrist shot over Backstrom (see KEY MOMENT below). The goals were Vrbata's 17th and 18th of the season.

Trailing 3-1 with just over half of the third period remaining, Minnesota's Matt Cullen was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. He took advantage, going crossbar and in to narrow the score at 3-2.

Curtis McElhinney

After Cullen's goal, McElhinney took over -- robbing Cal Clutterbuck on a one-timer from the slot with four minutes remaining. Two minutes after that, McElhinney stoned Dany Heatley on a similar play to preserve the one-goal lead. Once trailing by double-digits in shots in the third period, Minnesota pulled Backstrom with just over a minute to play and eventually took a one-shot edge before Ray Whitney's empty-net goal with 18.9 seconds remaining evened the shots at 30-30 and secured the win.

"They got the penalty shot goal, and that really gave them some momentum," Tippett said. "But our guys hung in there, our goaltender gave us some saves we really needed and we got the win."

Minnesota (21-13-6) struck first at 6:19 of the second period, thanks to some hard work by Nick Johnson in front. Johnson jammed at a puck in the crease until it shook loose to a crashing Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who slammed home his eighth of the season.

Following the first goal, the Coyotes controlled play for much of the remainder of the second period. A vast majority of the action took place in front of Backstrom, and if not for him, the Coyotes might have been able to build a lead.

Phoenix tied the score at 15:02 of the second period with some help from Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who returned to the Wild lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Photo by Getty Images.

With Greg Zanon serving a holding penalty, the Coyotes buzzed the net. A pass from the left of Backstrom was deflected high in the air above traffic at the top of the crease. Spurgeon, standing near the left post, tried to bat the puck out of the air and wide -- instead, he accidentally put it into his own net. After a video review, Daymond Langkow was credited with his eighth of the season, tying the score at 1-1.

"That's a Daymond Langkow goal. He gets those all the time," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said with a chuckle. "It was huge for us, not only to score, but to just get some momentum on our power play. The last couple of games, it's almost taken away our momentum, so it was big to get something out of it." 



Neither team was especially sharp over the first 20 minutes, as Phoenix outshot Minnesota 10-8 in a period where much of the game was played in the neutral zone. The Coyotes had one opportunity with the man advantage in the first, but the power play yielded no scoring chances.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.

 
Vrbata
Leading 2-1, Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata scored his second goal of the game after a slick passing exchange with teammate Kyle Chipchura.

Vrbata netted the goal just 2:01 after scoring his first goal of the night by skating the puck around the Wild net and lifting a shot over sprawling Wild goalie Niklas Backstom at 6:16 of the third period.

"I didn't expect to get it back, so when I had the puck at first, I had nothing to shoot at," Vrbata said.



► Click here to watch the KEY MOMENT.
 

• Goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 28 of 30 shots in his first start with the Coyotes and earned his 69th NHL victory. McElhinney last won an NHL game tending goal for Tampa Bay vs. Ottawa on March 19, 2011. For McElhinney, it was his first victory of the season after being called up from the American Hiockey League on Monday. The fifth-year veteran - playing for his fourth NHL team - said it's been a fun year despite having played all but the last six days in the minors and that he's tried to make the best of his increased playing time in the AHL.

• Forward Radim Vrbata ended a five-game point-scoring drought with his third two-goal game of the season.

• The Coyotes are 4-0-1 vs. Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center under Head Coach Dave Tippett.

• Matt Cullen's penalty-shot goal was the first successful penalty shot by a Coyotes opponent since Jean-Pierre Dumont scored for Nashville on Feb. 19, 2007 vs. goalie Curtis Joseph. 

Photo by Getty Images.
• What follows is the official NHL ruling on center Daymond Langkow's power-play goal in the second period: "At 15:02 of the second period in the Coyotes/Wild game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck entered the net in a legal fashion after deflecting off the stick of Minnesota player Jared Spurgeon. Good goal Phoenix."

• The Coyotes played minus starting goalie Mike Smith (lower-body injury), and centers Martin Hanzal (upper-body injury) and Boyd Gordon (lower-body injury). All three players are on the injured reserve list.

• The Coyotes scratched Derek Morris, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and David Rundblad.

• The Coyotes' next game is Tuesday vs. the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center. 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).
 
"It's such a nice feeling. I've been down in the minors for the majority of the year, so for me to come in here and help this team out and get a win, it feels tremendous." "That's probably the ugliest goal I've ever scored and I've scored some bad ones. That's just the way it goes sometimes. I'll take it."  "They have good, mobile defensemen and they're a very good team. I don't think they get enough credit as they deserve, but I think we didn't do what we needed to do...We didn't force the issue enough.”
McElhinney Langkow Cullen
 
Vrbata
Cullen
Bouchard
 
  • Dec. 31, 2011: PHX 4, MIN 2
  • April 7, 2012: 
  • Dec. 10, 2011: MIN 4, PHX 1
  • March 8, 2012: 

scoring summary
1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
06:19
MIN
Pierre-Marc Bouchard (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Nick Johnson (10), Matt Cullen (13)
1 - 0 MIN
15:02
PHX
PPG - Daymond Langkow (6) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
1 - 1 Tie
3rd Period
04:15
PHX
Radim Vrbata (17) Wrist shot - ASST: Ray Whitney (21)
2 - 1 PHX
06:16
PHX
Radim Vrbata (18) Wrist shot - ASST: Kyle Chipchura (7), Keith Yandle (18)
3 - 1 PHX
08:12
MIN
PS - Matt Cullen (10) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
3 - 2 PHX
19:41
PHX
EN - Ray Whitney (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Rostislav Klesla (6)
4 - 2 PHX
penalty summary
1st Period
13:59
MIN
Nate Prosser  Slashing against  Lauri Korpikoski
2nd Period
13:59
MIN
Greg Zanon  Holding against  Mikkel Boedker
19:11
MIN
Kyle Brodziak  Interference on goalkeeper against  Curtis McElhinney
3rd Period
09:27
PHX
Michal Rozsival  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
goalie stats
Curtis McElhinney
SA: 30TOI: 59:46
Saves: 28EV: 27 - 29
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .933SH: 0 - 0
Niklas Backstrom
Niklas Backstrom
12-10-4
SA: 29TOI: 58:49
Saves: 26EV: 21 - 23
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 6
SV%: .897SH: 0 - 0
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