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Upshall's late goal lifts Coyotes to 3-2 win over Wild

by John Kreiser /
Scottie Upshall sure knows how to quiet a crowd.

With the Xcel Energy Center rocking after Antti Miettinen scored the game-tying goal with 4:58 left in regulation, Upshall silenced the crowd by scoring 19 seconds later to give the Phoenix Coyotes a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

Upshall blasted the rebound of Keith Yandle's shot past Niklas Backstrom, putting a quick end to the fans' celebration.

"That's a big one, especially when the building is sitting there waiting for something to happen," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "They get some life and we can take it away from them in a hurry. That's not a bad scenario you want to follow."

Radim Vrbata and Jim Vandermeer also scored for Phoenix, which ended a seven-game losing streak in Minnesota. Andrew Brunette had the other goal for the Wild, 0-2-2 in their last four games. Minnesota was outshot for long stretches of the game and repeatedly frustrated by Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

"This is probably our poorest, I think, performance of the year," Wild coach Todd Richards said after his team fell to 7-12-2. "We had spurts in the third period. They pretty much controlled and dictated everything going on in the first period, and I would say a good portion of the second."

The teams emerged from the first period scoreless because of Backstrom. The Coyotes outshot the Minnesota 15-5 and had several excellent chances after Wild giveaways.

The Coyotes scored 1:24 into the second period on their 16th shot when Vrbata's wrister eluded a crowd in front of Backstrom and sailed over the goal line before the goalie could get a look at the puck. It was Vrbata's sixth goal of the season and came on a controversial Phoenix power play.

In the final seconds of the opening period, Minnesota's Owen Nolan was called for slashing Phoenix defenseman Sami Lepisto. Replays showed Nolan raised his stick but did not make contact with Lepisto, just as the Phoenix player's stick snapped.

"I don't think it was a penalty, but calls like that happen and I'm sure it will happen against us during the season," Vrbata said. "So when it happens for you, you have to take advantage of it."

The Wild finally solved Bryzgalov early in the third period when Brunette scored on a backhander at 2:23. Vrbata set up Vandermeer's goal at 8:49 that gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead, but Miettinen knotted the score again.

It was the third multipoint game of the season for Vrbata, but the first since he opened the season with four points in Phoenix's first two games.

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

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