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The Wrap: Coyotes Close Road Trip in Minnesota

Chychrun and Kessel score, Raanta returns

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes
Final Score: Wild 5, Coyotes 2
Record: 19-20-5
Standings: 5th-place, West Division

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The Coyotes finally head home. 

The grueling, 15-day, nine-game road trip came to a close Wednesday afternoon with a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. 

Antti Raanta started his first game since March 22, making 17 saves. Raanta missed the previous 11 games due to a lower-body injury.

"You never know how you're going to feel when you come back from a little time off," Raanta said. "After those couple first bouncy pucks, you start to feel better. I thought all of the bounces were going Minnesota's way today; we didn't really have any luck in our own end or their end. But overall, it was nice to get back playing." 

Minnesota struck for the lone, first-period goal, 1-0.

Jakob Chychrun responded early in the second period, to tie the game, 1-1, scoring his 13th goal of the season - a perfectly placed snap shot to the top right corner. 

The Wild scored the next four goals to build a 5-1 lead.

Phil Kessel countered in the third period, scoring his 16th goal of the season to cut into the Wild lead, 5-2.

The Coyotes out-shot their opponent (30-22) for the second straight game. Ironically, Arizona has a losing record with the shot advantage (4-7-2), and a winning record when getting out-shot (14-13-3).

Head coach Rick Tocchet highlighted the Coyotes penalty kill as a factor in the loss - the Wild scored on all three of its power plays. Aside from that, he was pleased with the team's effort. 

"I know the results aren't there, but I've actually liked our last three games," Tocchet said. "The other team is making those 'big moment' plays. We need to feel good about ourselves on something. We need somebody to make a crucial play at the right time, and we're not getting it right now. But overall, I thought the last three games there has been effort there, definitely some effort from the guys." 

Arizona opens a three-game home stand Saturday. 

"We get to go home," Tocchet said. "We've got to rest, we've got to get some energy and worry about Saturday night. We've got to win a game. We need to win a game to get us feeling good about ourselves, and just go from there. You can't win five in a row, you have to win one at a time -- and that's what we have to do." 

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The Game:

First Period: Mats Zuccarello opened the scoring at 16:31 to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.

Second Period: Jakob Chychrun tied the game, 1-1, at 2:16. Zach Parise (7:28) and Nick Bonino (19:14) countered to give the Wild a 3-1 advantage.

Third Period: Mats Zuccarello (4:30) and Jared Spurgeon (5:50) added for Minnesota, 5-1. Phil Kessel cut the Coyotes' deficit to three, 5-2, at 8:36.

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Statistics: 

SOG: ARI - 30, MIN - 22

PP: ARI - 1/4, MIN - 3/3

Hits: ARI - 16, MIN - 17

Blocks: ARI - 16, MIN - 12 

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Tocchet's Take: "The effort's there, especially the last three games. I think we just need something to feel good about ourselves. A win's going to help us, but I don't think guys are giving up. I think guys understand that we've got to plug the leak right now. Hopefully, we get some healthy bodies back to brighten us up a little bit. But in the meantime, Saturday night's a big game. That's the way we've got to look at it, one game at a time." 

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Alex Goligoski said: "We're missing a little 'puck luck' right now, but at the same time there's been a (moment) every game where we've kind of shot ourselves in the foot with missed coverage and gave the other team (a goal). We're playing from behind. We've got to figure it out quick. We'll get home, get some rest and we've got to go on a run. We know how fast things can go in one direction and go just as fast in the other. So, we've got to be ready to go."

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Notable: 

  • Jakob Chychrun scored his 13th goal of the season to set a single-season, career high. Chychrun is tied with Edmonton's Darnell Nurse for most goals by a defenseman this season.
  • Phil Kessel scored his team-leading 16th goal.
  • Alex Goligoski registered the secondary assist on Jakob Chychrun's goal and now has 11 points (1G, 10A) in the last 12 games. He has a point in nine of the team's previous 12 games.

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A Closer Look: The Coyotes finished their season-long, nine-game road trip with a 3-6-0 record, earning six points. The team will open a three-game home stand Saturday afternoon. Seven of the Coyotes' remaining 13 regular-season games will be played at Gila River Arena. Arizona is 10-8-3 at home this season.

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Coyotes Lineup:

Forwards

Crouse - Dvorak - Pitlick

Bunting - Schmaltz - Garland

Hunt - Larsson - Kessel

Keller - Brassard - Fischer

Defensemen

Chychrun - Goligoski

Ekman-Larsson - Lyubushkin

Hjalmarsson - Demers 

Scratches

Hayden

Oesterle

Pederson

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Roster Notes: Antti Raanta was removed from the Injured Reserve list and returned to the lineup for the first time since March 22. Derick Brassard, a healthy scratch Monday, returned and replaced Lane Pederson. Defenseman Jordan Gross (lower-body) and goalie Darcy Kuemper (lower-body) remain on the Injured Reserve list.

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What's Next: The Coyotes return home Wednesday evening and have a scheduled off-day Thursday. They play the St. Louis Blues Saturday afternoon, 3:00 p.m., at Gila River Arena.

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Photo of the Game: A little help from his friends. Antti Raanta kicks aside a Minnesota scoring chance while Jakob Chychrun, Alex Goligoski and Christian Dvorak protect the crease.

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Highlights:

Video: Condensed Game: Coyotes @ Wild

Lead Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn - NHLI via Getty Images

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