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Wild snap slide by beating Coyotes 3-2

by Jerry Brown /

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Hungry for a victory and with pressure building, the Minnesota Wild got a big game from their big line.

Andrew Brunette continued his mastery of Phoenix with a pair of goals and linemates Antti Miettinen and Mikko Koivu each had a pair of assists as Minnesota snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

"This was a big game for us and you have to look to your big dogs," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "Mikko, Bru and Antti … those are our big dogs. Those guys stepped up and the other guys followed suit. It was easy to send guys over the boards because everyone was putting it on the line."

Brunette, who now has 12 goals and 38 points in 41 career games against the Coyotes, opened the scoring at 6:52 of the first period and added a power-play goal on a deflection with 9:10 left in the game. That goal ended a 1-for-31 power play draught for Minnesota over the last 11 games and proved to be the game-winner.

"I think since the last Phoenix game (a 4-2 home loss on Dec. 1) we've been playing at a better level. We just hadn't been rewarded for it," said Brunette, who had only one goal in the previous 15 games. "Tonight we got something out of the effort and hopefully it gives us a spark."

Defenseman Brent Burns added his seventh goal for the Wild, who lost center Matt Cullen to a reoccurring groin injury after two periods but hung on to snap a five-game losing streak to Phoenix dating back to the 2008-09 season.

Taylor Pyatt had both goals for Phoenix -- like Brunette, he scored in both the first and third periods. His power-play deflection with 58.7 seconds left in regulation pulled the Coyotes to within 3-2, but Niklas Backstrom made two of his 33 saves late to hand Phoenix just their third regulation loss in its last 15 games (9-3-3).

"Too little, too late," said Pyatt, who had his second two-goal game since Nov. 21 and now had six for the season. "We gave them a little bit of life at the start, came out a little bit flat … it's definitely a disappointing game for us here at home."

But it's not the first time. The Coyotes watched the struggling the Florida Panthers win for just the second time in the last seven games here on Saturday before losing to a Wild team that was 0-3-2 in its last five games. The Coyotes, who are 8-4-2 on the road this season, are now just 5-4-4 on home ice and 0-2-1 in their last three games at Arena.

"You can't win in this league on first effort; you need second and third effort to win in this game," coach Dave Tippett said. "The fact we didn't draw a penalty until late in the game, to me, that's a clear indication that you're not getting to the net hard enough and you're not doing enough.

"Once it got to 3-1, we decided to play desperate. Why not play desperate in the first five minutes? There might be a different outcome."

The Wild needed some early momentum -- and they got it at 6:52 into play when they beat the Phoenix forecheck with crisp passing by Koivu and Miettinen to send in Brunette for a backhander that went over Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

"We've been better in practice and we're starting to click again," Miettinen said. "It makes it so much easier when all three of us on are on the same page, moving and staying close to each other. Hopefully we can do the same thing more consistently because it's the key for us."

The Coyotes answered at 14:33 when rookie Oliver Ekman-Larsson, recalled from the minors on Tuesday, left the box after a penalty, collected the puck and found Pyatt in the slot for a one-timer.

But after Phoenix kept up the pressure and threatened - captain Shane Doan continued his frustrating season by hitting the crossbar and the post on the same shift -the Wild regrouped and Miettinen's pass from the corner hit a charging Burns on the tape for the tap-in with 55.4 seconds left in the period.

"We knew the first period was going to be big and they won it," Doan said. "Once they got the lead they play well in the neutral zone and they don't give you a lot of opportunities. We never got it going the way we wanted to."

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