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Coyotes win goaltending battle to beat Wild 1-0

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Phoenix captain Shane Doan told his teammates before they took the ice to be prepared for a 1-0 game. Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom made sure the Coyotes had to sweat out the only goal they got.

After Backstrom frustrated the Coyotes by making 31 saves through two periods, Phoenix finally broke through - and snapped Backstrom's franchise-record shutout streak - when Taylor Pyatt scored 2:20 into the third period to give Phoenix a 1-0 win Saturday night.

"That's the mentality we have to have each night, and when we go in trying to win a 1-0 game we're tough to play against," Doan said. "That's why we've had success on the road and staying from that is why we've struggled at home. It's as simple as that and tonight we played simple but effective."

The Coyotes, who entered the night two points from fourth place but also two points from 12th in the jam-packed Western Conference, had lost six of their last eight games, including five in a row at home, and had been outscored 11-0 over the last four-plus periods.

But Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who had allowed 30 goals in his last eight games, stopped all 25 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout of the season and the 20th of his career in his 300th NHL game. He has 18 shutouts since the Coyotes claimed him off waivers from Anaheim in November 2007.

Bryzgalov was good - but Backstrom was that much better. After a 1-0 shootout win over Los Angeles on Tuesday, he hadn't allowed a goal since the first period of a 4-2 win over Chicago on Jan. 25. Backstrom broke his own two-year-old franchise-record shutout streak of 149:14 in the second period and made stoned every Phoenix scoring bid, including a fabulous leg kick to punch away a Martin Hanzal backhander in the first period.

Phoenix was shut out at home by Vancouver on Wednesday and hadn't scored since enforcerPaul Bissonnette connected in the second period of Tuesday's 5-3 loss at San Jose. But both spells were broken when Phoenix defenseman Sami Lepisto picked off aMartin Havlat pass at the Coyotes' blue line, pinched in and found Pyatt in the slot for a wrist shot by Backstrom's glove. It was Phoenix's first goal in 132 minutes, 7 seconds and snapped Backstrom's streak at 157:13.

The loss pushed the Wild behind Phoenix to eighth place in the West, though Minnesota has two games in hand.

Backstrom wasn't taking and solace from his brilliant performance.

"You play for wins. That's the only thing that matters," Backstrom said. "We needed to have two points from here. We didn't get them. One bounce there, one bounce here and we could have tied it."

The Coyotes were duly impressed with Backstrom, who has beaten them 10 times and shut them out three times in 15 previous games.

"He was kicking tonight. When he's playing at his best, it's really tough to get one by him," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "We've seen him do that before and he's such a good goalie, when we got one by him we had to make it stand up."

It hadn't been a stellar night for Pyatt. He lost a sure goal in the first period when Minnesota's Cam Barker bumped the net off its moorings -- drawing a delay of game penalty -- and he was sent to the penalty box twice in the second. But when he had the chance be the hero, Pyatt didn't miss and scored his first goal in nine games.

"He's a big heavy guy, the kind who can have success in a game like this," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "He had some back luck and you start to wonder if this is your night … but it wound up being his night anyway."

The Wild played without center Matt Cullen (upper body injury) and defensemanJared Spurgeon (flu). They were replaced by AHL call-upsCody Almond and Justin Falk. The Coyotes played without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (upper body). Phoenix is hoping to have Jovanovski and center Vernon Fiddler, who has missed the last nine games with a shoulder injury, back as early as Monday against Colorado.

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