The Minnesota Wild seemed to be cruising to victory, but a pair of late goals by the Phoenix Coyotes made it interesting. The Wild held off a late Coyotes flurry for a 4-3 win at Jobing.com Arena on Thursday.
The Coyotes (9-8-3) got back in the game by one of the weirdest goals anyone has seen. Keith Yandle attempted to dump the puck into the Wild's zone, but the puck hit a plastic holder between two panes of glass and ricocheted toward the net. Niklas Backstrom did not have enough time to react to the odd carom and the puck found room to get into the net. The goal came with four minutes and 39 seconds remaining in the game and gave the Coyotes new life.
After a questionable penalty was called on Matt Cullen to negate a Wild power play with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Shane Doan fired a wrist shot from the slot over Backstrom's glove to get the Coyotes within a goal.
The Coyotes pulled its goalie, but had just one good scoring chance to tie. However, Oliver Ekman-Larsson's stick snapped on a one-timer from the top of the circle.
The Wild (10-7-2) took control of the game early with three goals in nearly the first 26 minutes of the game.
Jason Zucker got the scoring started by re-directing a pass from Cullen past Mike Smith for his third goal of the season just one minute and 35 seconds into the game.
Dany Heatley extended the lead to 3-0 with a pair of goals about 12 game-minutes apart. The first came off a 2-on-1 rush in which he fired a shot over the blocker of Smith off a pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard. His second came five seconds after the Wild's first power play ended. He one-timed a pass from Cullen over the other shoulder of Smith. Devin Setoguchi teamed with Cullen to record assists for the second time in the game.
Jared Spurgeon scored the eventual game-winner on a power play by knocking a rebound past Smith at the 16:02 mark of the second period.
The Wild improved to 4-0-0 in the first game of back-to-back and 8-2-2 in one-goal games. The Wild look for its third sweep of back-to-back games Friday against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center.
No. 3 – Jason Zucker. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 – Matt Cullen. The Wild forward recorded two assists.
No. 1 – Dany Heatley. The Wild forward scored two goals.
Minnesota 2 2 0 – 4
Phoenix 0 1 2 – 3
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Zucker 3 (Cullen, Setoguchi), 1:35. 2, Minnesota, Heatley 6 (Bouchard, Suter), 14:01. Penalties – Mitchell, Min (holding), 3:36; Rupp, Min, major (fighting), 9:01; Bissonette, Phx, major (fighting), 9:01; Parise, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:51.
Second Period – 3, Minnesota, Heatley 7 (Cullen, Setoguchi), 6:03. 4, Phoenix, Klesla 1 (Chipchura, Boedker), 10:18. 5, Minnesota, Spurgeon 1 (Koivu, Parise), 16:04 (pp). Penalties – Vermette, Phx (tripping), 3:58; Torres, Phx (high sticking), 6:37; Torres, Phx (tripping), 15:04.
Third Period – 6, Phoenix, Yandle 3 (Morris, Boedker), 15:21. 7, Phoenix, Doan 5 (Ekman-Larsson, Sullivan), 19:01. Penalties – Sullivan, Phx (tripping), 4:58; Stoner, Min (interference), 7:17; Mitchell, Min (hooking), tripping; Stone, Phx (diving), 12:51; Yandle, Phx (hooking), 18:12; Cullen, Min (holding), 18:35.
Shots on goal – Minnesota 8-11-4 23. Phoenix 11-5-12 28.
Goalies – Minnesota, Backstrom (25-28). Phoenix, Smith (15-19); Labarbera (4-4). Referees – Gord Dwyer, Dan O'Rourke. Linesmen – Jay Sharrers, Pierre Racicot.