You read that headline right, the much maligned Minnesota Wild power play scored twice on three chances en route to a 4-3 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes. A depleted blue line gave the Wild fits as Jared Spurgeon was a late scratch due to a stomach illness and Marco Scandella served the last game of his suspension.
Good morning and happy Sunday Wild fans. Nino Niederreiter scored his 13th of the year on an early power play, Jason Zucker scored on a delayed penalty, and Zach Parise scored on a late power play to force overtime against an Arizona Coyotes squad fighting for its life in the tough Western Conference. It seems Mike Yeo’s pep talk worked on the inconsistent Wild, as they played a complete game for the first time in weeks. Before we get to my notes, be sure to check out Tyler’s game preview for storylines to follow.
Statistically, the first period was fairly even, though I thought the Wild had some really good chances. Charlie Coyle drew the game’s first power play at 1:51 of the first as he was held by Joe Vitale. Coyle had a really good game, but this was just the beginning.
I’ll admit, I was super anxious at first. The Wild power play looked better than it has, though the Coyotes were awfully good at blocking shots. Then, a storm came through. Nino Niederreiter set up Mikael Granlund and Thomas Vanek with a dump in from the point. Vanek fought hard for the puck and sent it up to Ryan Suter at the top of the slot. Suter let loose a huge shot that Niederreiter, now in front of the net, redirected for his 13th goal of the year. 1-0 Wild at 2:48 of the first period. It’s a subtle move by Niederreiter, but it looks like he gets the puck down closer to the ice to slip past goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Have a look:
Coyle had a really good chance with Erik Haula right after this power play. They didn’t credit him with a shot on goal, but Dubnyk had to scoop up the puck in a hurry.
The power play giveth, and the power play taketh away. Mikko Koivu took a slashing penalty on the next shift, sending Arizona to its first power play. The Wild was fairly poor on this PK, though they were missing Ryan Carter and Scandella. Oliver Ekman-Larsson buried home a cross-ice pass from Mikkel Boedker on a play that was telegraphed from the start. I’m not really sure what the Wild missed, but Ekman-Larsson’s 6th of the year makes it a 1-1 tie at 03:52 of the first period.
Towards the end of the first, Jason Zucker set Jason Pominville up for a beautiful chance that bounced harmlessly off Dubnyk’s chest. Like I said, Wild had some good chances and Dubnyk really kept the Coyotes in the game early.
Shots through one period: Minnesota Wild 10, Arizona Coyotes 7
Thomas Vanek and Zach Parise have really grown chemistry together and it showed with an early flurry.
Antoine Vermette earned his 8th goal of the year in the opening minutes of the second, bouncing the puck off of Niklas Bacsktrom and in to the twine. 2-1 Coyotes at 01:40 of the second period. Interestingly, this was the first even strength goal the Coyotes have scored on the Wild in over a year.
After about the 10th minute, Arizona took over in puck possession. A lot of this had to do with the defensive corps, but we’ll cover that later.
Jason Zucker, who grew up in Las Vegas and had family in attendance tonight, tied the game up late in the second on a breakaway. Taking a long outlet pass from Pominville, Zucker got free and beat Dubnyk with a nifty little backhander he’s used before. David Schlemko slashed Zucker on his way to the net and I think he’d have earned a penalty shot, but Zuck didn’t need it. 2-2 Tie at 13:25 of the second period. Have a look, here:
Last minute goals are pesky, especially when it’s the other team. Poor blue line coverage in the offensive zone gave the Coyotes a 3-on-1 with Nate Prosser the lone white sweater. Lauri Korpikoski buried home a Kyle Chipchura rebound past a sprawling Backstrom to make it 3-2 Coyotes at 19:32 of the second period.
Shots through two periods: Minnesota Wild 21, Arizona Coyotes 20
The Wild power play got 2 chances in the 3rd period. The first chance was in the first minute didn’t click.
The Second power play, starting in the 13th minute, gave the Wild the tie. Jason Pominville fired a shot from the left face-off dot that bounced right back to him. Pominville passed off to Parise on the other side of the crease. Parise simply tapped the puck in to a wide open net to make it a 3-3 tie at 14:07 of the third period.
The rest of regulation was flat, so we head to overtime.
Shots in regulation: Minnesota Wild 32, Arizona Coyotes 28
Three shots for the Wild, though Dubnyk completely robbed Mikko Koivu’s tip-in bid. Two shots for the Coyotes, neither of them legitimate scoring chances. Off to the shootout.
Zach Parise scored in the first round and Mikko Koivu added his signature backhand move to seal the game for the Wild. Antoine Vermette was the only member of the Coyotes to figure out Backstrom in the skills competition Wild win 4-3 in the shootout and steal the second point.
Good effort by the Coyotes tonight. Devan Dubnyk deserves a lot of credit and may have earned the starting gig in Glendale.
It’s very strange to say that the Wild power play was the precipitating factor in a win, but I’m glad they clicked tonight.
Charlie Coyle, who had a miserable night in San Jose, played a great game tonight. He had 4 shots, 3 hits and a takeaway in just over 17 minutes of ice time.
Now, on to the blue line. Spurgeon was a last-minute scratch and Scandella was suspended for this game. Stu Bickel, who was set to play for an injured Ryan Carter, shifted to the blue line but only played 6 minutes. SIX minutes. Jonas Brodin and Suter both logged more than 31 minutes. That’s not a good way to work a blue line. I’m not sure what their plan is, but it may be time to recall somebody else. Jon Blum? Jordan Schroeder for a forward? I don’t know.
The Wild needed the 2 points tonight and they earned both in a game I thought would be far easier. They take on Chicago Tuesday. I’ll talk to you then.