Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/Minnesota Wild
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Minnesota - Niklas Backstrom
On Friday afternoon, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to the Minnesota Wild by the score of 4-0. In addition t a pair of power play goals, the Wild also added an even strength and a shorthanded tally to hold off the Coyotes in their first game of a two-game road trip.
The opening minutes of the game featured both clubs trying to gain the offensive zone, but being turned aside at the bluelines by opposing defenses.
Minnesota gave the Coyotes the first power play of the game at 4:16 of the period when Pascal Dupuis was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Phoenix would use the man-advantage to get a pair of shots on goal, but Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom was able to make the routine stops and hold the Coyotes off the scoreboard and return Minnesota to full strength.
With just over ten-minute gone in the first, the Wild nearly took the first lead of the game on a shot from the side of the crease, but goaltender Curtis Joseph made the save to preserve the scoreless tie.
Over the next several minutes, the on-ice officials were able to put away their whistles as the Coyotes and Wild traded rushes up ice, producing little offense and allowing nearly five minutes of the first period to run off the clock with little offensive action.
Phoenix would take their first penalty of the game at 16:14 of the opening frame when defenseman Nick Boynton lost control of his stick, catching a member of the Wild above the shoulders, resulting in a minor penalty. Then, 27-seconds into the Boynton infraction, Phoenix forward Dave Scatchard, was called for holding, giving Minnesota 1:33 of five-on-three hockey. On the very next shift, the Wild converted on power play as Pierre-Marc Bouchard received a pass deep in the offensive zone, allowing his make a pair of quick moves on Joseph before lifting the puck into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Before the Coyotes could kill-off the remainder of the penalty to Scatchard, forward Oleg Saprykin was assessed a hooking call, giving the Wild another two-man advantage for 37-seconds. Fortunately, the power play would be negated by a high-sticking penalty to Minnesota's Wyatt Smith at 19:32 of the period.
The Coyotes would run out the clock on the final seconds of the period, heading to the locker room after one period of play, trailing by the score of 1-0.
The Coyotes had a chance to even the score early in the second when Stephane Veilleux was sent to the box for slashing. However, the Phoenix power play unit would run into a tough Wild penalty kill, which would keep them off the scoreboard for the entire power play.
At 6:36 the Wild would increased their lead to 2-0 when Mark Parrish's shot from the right face-off circle snuck through the legs of Joseph and found the back of the net, putting Minnesota on top by two. Forward Todd White recorded his second assist of the game on Parrish's fifth goal of the season.
The Phoenix man-advantage would return to the ice at 12:39 of the second when Wild defenseman Martin Skoula was called for hooking. While the Coyotes were able to get a series of shots to the net, they weren't getting Backstom far enough out of position to convert on a cross ice pass and traffic in front of the net was limited. As a result, the Wild kept the Coyotes off the scoreboard and killed off their fourth consecutive penalty.
With 3:34 remaining in the period, Minnesota returned to the penalty box as defenseman Keith Carney received a hooking call. Unfortunately, the Wild would be the team to take advantage as a turnover in the Coyotes end, along with an ill-timed line change by Ladislav Nagy, created a shorthanded two-on-one for Minnesota. Once in the offensive zone, Brian Rolston send a pass to Pascal Dupuis, who closed in from the left-hand side before firing a shot past Joseph, for a 3-0 Wild lead.
The final seconds of the stanza would run off the clock as the Coyotes headed off the ice after 40-minutesw of play, trailing by three.
Phoenix tried to create some offensive pressure at the start of the third period in hopes of cutting into the Wild lead and they nearly did that when defenseman Keith Ballard blasted a shot from the blueline that was initially stopped by Backstrom before the puck came to a stop in the crease. However, before the Coyotes could reach the puck to push it into the net, Backstrom was able to lie on his back and hold the puck for a whistle.
Phoenix found themselves back in penalty trouble at 6:03 of the third when Fredrik Sjostrom was sent to the box for hooking. 54-seconds into the Sjostrom penalty, the Wild offensive pressure created a situation where Joseph was forced to slide across the crease from right to left, as the shot was blocked before it reached the net and sent into the slot where Minnesota's Branko Radivojevic was able to shot the puck into an open net, for a 4-0 Wild lead.
Following the goal by Radivojevic, Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky pulled Joseph from the net and replaced him with David LeNeveu, as he gave Joseph a little extra time to prepare for Saturday's contest in St. Louis.
The Coyotes would take a pair of slashing penalties (Mike Zigomanis & Derek Morris) over the final eight minute of the game, but Phoenix penalty killing unit was able to hold off the Minnesota attack, but the damage had already been done and the Coyotes offense would never find the rhythm they were looking for as Phoenix fell to the Wild by the final score of 4-0.