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NHL Game Summary - Phoenix at Minnesota
(Saturday, April 7th)
Final Score: Phoenix 4, Minnesota 1
St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - Taylor Pyatt tallied twice and Mike Smith stopped 23 shots as the Phoenix Coyotes clinched their first-ever division title and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Smith is the major reason why the Coyotes closed the season with five consecutive wins to capture the Pacific Division crown. He's registered three shutouts during that span and stopped 190-of-192 shots.
Radim Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker also lit the lamp for the Coyotes (42-27-13), who will play the sixth-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
"The intensity that comes with them (playoffs), we have a group of guys that'll really look forward to that, I look forward to every minute of playing in them," forward Shane Doan said of the postseason opportunity.
Dany Heatley scored the lone goal for Minnesota (35-36-11), which held the NHL's best record at 20-7-3 on Dec. 10, but went 15-29-8 to close the season.
"I think when we were at the top we got a bit complacent, things started to slide," forward Devin Setoguchi said.
Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves in defeat.
The Coyotes opened with a pair of tallies in the first and never looked back.
From the right boards, Shane Doan fed Boedker in the right circle with a backhander and he beat Backstrom with a quick shot into the upper-right corner at the 5:34 mark.
Pyatt snapped one home from the slot to make it 2-0 with 6:03 remaining in the period.
The Wild got one back in the second period.
After Mikko Koivu put a wrister on net from the left circle, Heatley pounced on the loose puck to the left of the cage and deflected it off the leg of Smith and into the back of the net with 6:07 to go in the stanza.
But the Coyotes stretched the margin back to two just 31 seconds later.
Unsuccessful on his initial wraparound attempt, Pyatt got his own rebound and lifted the disc over Backstrom for a 3-1 Coyotes advantage.
Vrbata's slap shot from the right circle made it 4-1 early in the third and Smith stood tall in net down the stretch to seal the win.
Both teams went 0-for-5 on the man advantage...Vrbata finished the season with 35 goals, while Ray Whitney dished out 53 helpers on the year...Minnesota attempted just four shots in the first period.
04/07 23:16:08 ET
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