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Coyotes beat Wild 3-2 to complete season sweep

by Brian Compton
Never before had the Phoenix Coyotes swept a season against the Minnesota Wild, but that changed on Wednesday night.

Martin Hanzal had a goal and an assist and Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves as the Coyotes completed the four-game sweep with a 3-2 victory at the Xcel Energy Center. It was their eighth win in their last nine games.

The victory gives Phoenix 79 points with 21 games remaining in the regular season. It finished with 79 points in 2008-09. With a playoff berth practically a certainty, the Coyotes wouldn't mind facing the Wild in the opening round of the postseason.

"We're just trying to get in the playoffs first," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We'll worry about ourselves. We're not going to worry about Minnesota."

Minnesota got an early power-play goal by Guillaume Latendresse — his fourth in three games against Phoenix this season. Martin Havlat also scored for the Wild, who failed to get at least a point at home for the first time in the past nine games. Minnesota trails Calgary by five points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We're looking to make that extra-pretty pass, looking for the empty net," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "We have to be a team that shoots the puck and goes to the net."

Hanzal tied the game at 1-1 when he notched his seventh goal of the season at 12:02 of the first period. Matthew Lombardi gave the Coyotes the lead just 2:08 into the second, when he beat Niklas Backstrom (28 saves) for his 13th goal of the season.

Radim Vrbata gave Phoenix a two-goal lead when he scored his team-high 20th goal of the season at 5:41 of the third on a shot that deflected up in the air and behind Backstrom to make it 3-1. Havlat cut the deficit in half with 2:28 to go, but the Wild couldn't get the equalizer. They outshot the Coyotes 13-8 in the third.

"I think we were creating chances and we weren't just shooting the puck at the net," Havlat said. "We were creating chances but we weren't shooting at the right moment. We were looking for a better pass at the end of the play."

Blue Jackets 3, Sharks 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Mason is back.

The 2009 Calder Trophy winner stopped all 40 shots he faced for his second shutout in three games and Columbus improved to 3-0 under interim coach Claude Noel with a victory against San Jose at Nationwide Arena.

"Anytime you get a shutout, it's a team effort," Mason said after ending the Sharks' road winning streak at nine games. "I thought our first two periods were great. Then obviously in the third I thought we sat back a little and they had their opportunities. But at the end of the day, it was two points against a really good hockey club."

Noel raved of Mason's performance, which helped keep the Blue Jackets unbeaten since Ken Hitchcock was fired on Feb. 3.

"I really enjoyed the game," Noel said. "Mase was great. I didn't think he had to be great for the whole 60 minutes, but he was really good when he had to be and made some marvelous saves."

Rick Nash broke a scoreless tie with his 26th goal of the season at 13:18 of the first. After winning a battle in front against Sharks defenseman Doug Murray, Nash took a pass from Kristian Huselius and redirected it past Thomas Greiss (18 saves) to give Columbus a 1-0 lead.

Jakub Voracek made it 2-0 8:40 into the second when he ended a 26-game scoring drought. With the teams at even strength, Voracek -- who hadn't scored since Dec. 14 -- took a nifty feed from Derick Brassard and beat Greiss through the legs.

San Jose fired 20 shots on Mason in the third period, but the Blue Jackets' goaltender stopped them all. Antoine Vermette iced the win with an empty-net goal at 19:36.

"I think it was more our guys tonight than Mason," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It's disappointing that for 40 minutes we didn't have a lot of pop."

Avalanche 4, Thrashers 3, OT | HIGHLIGHTS

Colorado needed just nine seconds to end the extra session, as Kyle Cumiskey beat Johan Hedberg after some dazzling moves to lift the Avs to a thrilling win against Atlanta at the Pepsi Center.

"Cumiskey's goal was a great goal, but Durno's goal is desperation.  It was a huge goal because it tied the game and gave us life." -- Avs coach Joe Sacco

In overtime, the Avalanche won the faceoff and Cumiskey skated into the Thrashers' zone. He split two defenders and beat Hedberg (31 saves) for his seventh goal of the season. The goal moved Colorado into first place in the Northwest Division.

''I just took what they gave me,'' said Cumiskey, who basically skated through every Thrasher on the ice en route to the goal. ''I wasn't expecting it. I don't believe I did it.''

'He got the puck from the faceoff and pretty much skated through our whole team and scored,'' Hedberg said. ''I don't think anyone expected him to keep going like he did. It was a great play by him.''

The play didn't sit well with Atlanta coach John Anderson.

''I saw two defenseman not taking anybody in front of the net,'' he said. ''They let him walk right in. I've never seen that in my life before.''

Chris Stewart had a goal and an assist, Chris Durno also scored, Paul Stastny had three assists, and Craig Anderson made 33 saves for Colorado.

Nik Antropov, Niclas Bergfors and Bryan Little each had a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, who held a 3-1 lead. Atlanta has lost three straight on the road.

Atlanta took a 1-0 lead when Bergfors -- who was acquired from New Jersey in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal -- took a pass from Antropov and beat a screened Anderson for his 15th goal of the season. But the Thrashers held that lead for all of 46 seconds as Clark quickly tied the game at 9:40.

Little gave the Thrashers a 2-1 lead at 5:32 of the second, when he beat Anderson with a shot from the left circle. Antropov made it a two-goal game with 15:41 left in regulation, but Atlanta couldn't hang on. Stewart knocked in his own rebound with 11:26 left, and Durno tied it when he dove to swat a rebound past Hedberg with 5:29 to go.

''Cumiskey's goal was a great goal, but Durno's goal is desperation,'' Avs coach Joe Sacco said. ''It was a huge goal because it tied the game and gave us life.''

Ducks 3, Oilers 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Bobby Ryan scored twice and Jonas Hiller made 37 saves as Anaheim edged Edmonton and set a new franchise record with its 11th straight win on home ice.

Todd Marchant scored the game-winner with 11:39 remaining in regulation. The surging Ducks have won 13 of their last 18 contests and have pulled within two points of the Calgary Flames for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"Jonas kept us in early and made some big saves for us," Marchant said. "The penalty killing came up big tonight, especially late in the game there. We know we have to be better. We’ll take the win. We need the points and just have to keep moving up."

Ryan Potulny and Ethan Moreau scored shorthanded goals in the second period for the Oilers, while Jeff Deslauriers made 27 saves. Edmonton, which has never finished with the worst record in the League, is 3-22-2 in its last 27 games. The Oilers haven't won on the road since Dec. 11, when they won in St. Louis.

"They played hard tonight and certainly deserved a better result," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said of his group. "We had a lot of chances to score again. If we keep getting chances, maybe we'll get the confidence to start putting some in."

Marchant, who spent nearly a decade with Edmonton, redirected James Wisniewski's slap shot from the right point past Deslauriers' glove for his first game-winner of the season. The goal came less than a minute after the Oilers had killed off an interference penalty against Steve Staios.

Ryan broke a scoreless tie at 13:58 of the first, but Edmonton responded with a pair of goals as Potulny scored shorthanded after some gritty forechecking by Moreau at 6:22 of the second. Moreau then came up with a shorthanded goal of his own at 14:13, when he beat Hiller on a breakaway for his fifth goal of the season.

"It's a tough game to evaluate," Moreau said. "We knew that (Hiller) was playing well. We didn't get enough traffic in front of him. He saw a lot of the pucks, so we didn't exactly execute our game plan."

The Oilers held the lead for all of 69 seconds, as Ryan notched his second goal of the night -- this time via the power play – when he ripped a shot from the right circle past Deslauriers for his 27th goal.

"It's all about getting points and it doesn't matter how you get them," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "Every game isn't a picture of beauty and tonight wasn't one of those beautiful games this year. But we won the hockey game. That is the most important thing. You have to find way to win in the NHL and that is not easy in this League."

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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