Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Ladislav Nagy - (C) Yanic Perreault - (RW) Shane Doan
(D) Ed Jovanovski - (D) Zbynek Michalek
WILD STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Wes Waltz - (C) Pavol Demitra - (RW) Marian Gaborik
(D) Kim Johnsson - (D) Nick Shultz
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Minnesota - Niklas Backstrom
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes dropped a 1-0 decision at the hands of the Minnesota Wild.
The Coyotes and Wild would spend much of the first half of the period trading rushes up ice but without being able to generate much offense. Both clubs were reluctant to abandon their defense-first style of play and as a result, incoming forwards were having trouble finding room to set up and establish quality-scoring chances.
Midway through the period, the Coyotes would take the first power play of the game as Wild forward Pascal Dupuis was sent to the box for interference. If Minnesota's commitment to defense was good at full strength, they were determined to be even better shorthanded as they continually cleared the zone and kept Phoenix contained to the perimeter when they were able to get inside the offensive zone. In the end, the Coyotes would be unable to take advantage of the extra attack and play returned to five skaters aside.
Shortly after the penalty to Dupuis expired, Phoenix would make their first trip to the box when forward Josh Gratton was called for slashing at 12:26 of the first. The Wild faced the same obstacles they had created minutes earlier; being unable to get through a wall of Coyotes back-checkers and watching as the power play came and went with nothing to show on the scoreboard.
The Coyotes appeared to take the first lead of the game at 15:36 of the first when a scrum at the side of the Minnesota net eventually saw the puck slide behind Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom and into the goal. However, the video replay booth upstairs immediately reviewed the goal and it was concluded that the puck had been kicked into the net by the skate of Phoenix forward Oleg Saprykin. As a result, the goal was waived off and the score remained tied at 0-0.
The final minutes of the opening period would slip off the clock without incident and the Coyotes and Wild skated off the ice after 20-minnutes of play still deadlocked.
Just 12-seconds into the second period, the Wild grabbed the first lead of the game when Marian Gaborik picked off a Coyotes pass in the neutral zone, raced into the Phoenix end and snapped a shot through the legs of goaltender Curtis Joseph, for a 1-0 lead.
At 5:33 of the second, the Coyotes penalty-killing unit stepped back onto the ice when Patrick Fischer was called for hooking. Unlike their first power play, the Wild were able to create a number of scoring chances with the current man-advantage. Despite the increased pressure in the offensive zone, the Wild were unable to add to extend their lead and Phoenix was able to return to full strength.
Yanic Perreault had a chance to tie the game at 6:15 of the period when he found himself alone with the puck at the right side of the net. Perreault tried to force Backstrom into committing to a fake, but when the Minnesota netminder stood his ground, Perreault was forced to get a shot off, which was pulled in by Backstrom and held for a whistle.
Late in the stanza, Coyotes captain Shane Doan made his first trip to the penalty box when a member of the Wild stepped on the stick of Doan inside the Minnesota zone. Phoenix made sure they didn't allow the Wild to score a late goal as they brought and aggressive penalty kill at the Wild. Eventually, Doan would return to the ice and the final second of the period would tick off the clock, with Minnesota holding a one-goal lead.
Phoenix received their first power play of the third at 6:38 of the period when Minnesota captain Brian Rolston was charged with hooking. The Coyotes were able to use the extra attacker to their advantage as they began to make an attack on the Wild net. However, the power play would end with Phoenix still trailing by a goal.
The Coyotes, desperate for some form of chemistry, shook up the lines in hopes of creating some offensive success, but even facing a different set of attackers and combinations, Backstrom was able to keep Phoenix off the scoreboard through the first ten-minute of the period.
With just over seven minutes to play, Coyotes center and leading goal scorer Yanic Perreault, had two chances at the side of the Wild net; but once again, Backstrom proved to be the difference making both stops including knocking the second shot out of the air with his glove hand.
At 15:57 of the third, Minnesota defenseman Keith Carney took an ill-advised interference penalty, giving Phoenix a crucial power play. The Coyotes again turned to their power play unit, looking for some measure of success and an opportunity to even the score. But just as they had in their three previous chances, Phoenix simply couldn't find the results needed on the man-advantage and the Wild returned to full strength, heading into the final two minutes of regulation with a one-goal lead.
Over the course of the final two minutes, the Coyotes dominated the tempo of play and flooded the Minnesota net with shot after shot and bodies looking for rebounds. Despite their aggressive efforts, Phoenix couldn't get the puck into the net as they fell to the Wild by the score of 1-0.