Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Ladislav Nagy - (C) Yanic Perreault - (RW) Fredrik Sjostrom
(D) Derek Morris - (D) Keith Ballard
WILD STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Stephane Veilleux - (C) Mikko Koivu - (RW) Branko Radivojevic
(D) Kurtis Foster - (D) Petteri Nummelin
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Minnesota - Manny Fernandez
On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Coyotes showed their resiliency as they battled back from a pair of deficits to earn a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.
An early mistake by the Coyotes would prove costly as defenseman Zbynek Michalek made an unsuccessful clearing attempt through the middle from deep in his own zone. With 61 seconds gone off the clock, Wild forward Pavol Demitra grabbed the puck and fired a slap shot from just beyond the top of the circle that beat goaltender Curtis Joseph on the strong side for a 1-0 Minnesota lead.
Following the Wild goal, the Coyotes tried to establish an offensive presence by playing physical and chasing loose pucks around the Minnesota net. Unfortunately, Phoenix was only able to mange a pair of shots that Wild netminder Manny Fernandez calmly turned aside to protect the one-goal lead.
As the period progressed, the Wild forwards continued to work off the Coyotes turnovers, sending shots at Joseph, however, "Cujo" was able to make the saves and keep Minnesota from adding to their lead.
When Phoenix was able to set up in the offensive zone, the Wild did a good job of keeping the pressure on the Coyotes forwards, thereby forcing untimely passes and keeping the pressure off Fernandez.
With 2:01 to play in the first period, the Coyotes were given the first power play of the game when Wild defenseman Martin Skoula was called for hooking. Armed with the extra attacker, the Phoenix offensive attack seemed to come alive as pounded the Wild net with a handful of shots. But just as he had done all period long, Fernandez rose to the occasion and kept the Minnesota net clear as the opening period came to an end with the Coyotes trailing by one.
The Wild would strike again early in the second period when Pavol Demitra won a battle for a loose puck along the boards behind the Phoenix net, before sliding the puck to an open Mark Parrish in the right face-off circle. Once he had control of the puck, Parrish snapped a shot that slid under the right arm of Joseph and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Just over a minute later, Coyotes forward Georges Laraque took matters into his own hands when he dropped the gloves for a tilt with Minnesota's Derek Boogaard. Each would land a series of punches before Laraque muscled his opponent to the ice. Both Laraque and Boogaard would receive five-minute fighting majors for their actions.
The battle seemed to help infuse some momentum into the Coyotes as they quickly made a rush back into the offensive zone where Ladislav Nagy sent a perfect pass into the slot to Yanic Perreault, who sent a wrist shot past the glove of Fernandez, to make it a 2-1 game. Perreault's goal was is second in as many nights and his fourth point in the last five games.
The Wild would find themselves in a tough position at 3:53 of the second when a high-stick by Minnesota's Wes Walz on Dave Scatchard resulted in a four-minute Coyotes power play. Then with 1:09 left on the penalty to Walz, the Wild would make another trip to the box with defenseman Kim Johnsson being called for hooking. Phoenix tried to capitalize on the extended five-on-three power play, but a suffocating penalty kill by Minnesota kept the Coyotes off the scoreboard and limited Phoenix to only two shots over the course of the entire man-advantage.
The Coyotes would continue to battle in the offensive zone after the Wild returned to full strength and the prolonged attack would take its toll on the Minnesota defense at 12:31 of the second; when a great individual effort by Laraque behind the Wild net, created a loose puck at the top of the crease where Oleg Saprykin rushed in and slid the puck through the legs of Fernandez to tie the contest at 2-2.
Minnesota would venture back into the penalty box with 3:52 to play in the second when Wyatt Smith was called for hooking. The Coyotes would continue to create offensive chances, but Fernandez settled in to a groove as he proceeded to keep the net clean for the remainder of the period.
With 40-minutes in the books, the Coyotes and Wild headed off the ice and into the locker rooms tied at 2-2.
Early in the third period, both clubs showed glimpses of the offense that led to their earlier goals, but Fernandez and Joseph stood their ground and kept the game deadlocked at 2-2.
The Wild began to take control of the tempo of the game by camping in the Phoenix end and blasting shots at the Coyotes net from around the zone. Unwilling to surrender the lead, Joseph continued to keep the puck out of the net and the game tied.
Minnesota's pressure would finally get the best of the Coyotes at the seven minute mark when Wes Walz snapped a one-timer from the slot past "Cujo," giving the Wild a 3-2 lead.
Phoenix refused to give up and would comeback to even the score at 3-3 at 7:43 of the third when Yanic Perreault's wrist shot from the left face-off circle beat Fernandez, high to the blocker side. Ladislav Nagy and Fredrik Sjostrom assisted Perreault's second goal of the game.
As the game entered the final five-minute of play, the importance of every shift began to be magnified until the Coyotes broke through with a little over four minutes remaining. With a flurry of activity taking place around the Wild net, a rebound from Fernandez squirted out to Saprykin, who hesitated before sending a just inside the far post, giving Phoenix their first lead of the evening at 4-3.
The Wild would try to get the tying goal over the course of the final minutes of play, but an energetic Coyotes defense kept the shots getting through to a minimum as they held on for a 4-3 win over the Wild.