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NHL Game Summary - Phoenix at Minnesota



(Saturday, December 31st)

Final Score: Phoenix 4, Minnesota 2

St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - Radim Vrbata scored two goals in the third period and Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves to lift the Phoenix Coyotes over the Minnesota Wild, 4-2, at Xcel Energy Center.

Daymond Langkow and Ray Whitney also netted goals for the Coyotes, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

"It was big for us to get a win tonight. It's been tough sledding for us as of late," Coyotes forward Shane Doan said. "We have to find ways to try and string some together but you can't do that without the first one."

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen lit the lamp for Minnesota, while Niklas Backstrom stopped 26-of-29 shots in the Wild's ninth loss in their last 10 games.

With the game tied at one entering the third period, Vrbata scored two quick goals to put the Coyotes on top for good.

The first came at the 4:15 mark of the period when Vrbata received a pass near the boards in the left circle and sent a shot from a sharp angle that slipped through the short side as Backstrom slid just far enough off the post.

Just two minutes later, Vrbata swooped around the back of the net and went to almost the same spot before lifting a wrister under the crossbar for a 3-1 Phoenix lead.

Cullen was awarded a penalty shot soon after when he was tripped from behind while on a breakaway. He took advantage of the opportunity with a hard wrister from the slot that first hit the crossbar before bouncing off the back of McElhinney's left leg and trickling across the line to bring the Wild within one.

But McElhinney stopped every other shot he faced in the period, including several big saves in the final minutes. Whitney shot the puck into the open net from the red line to seal the win with 19 seconds remaining in regulation.

"They scored two quick ones on us and took the momentum," Wild defenseman Greg Zanon said. "We kind of got it back and made a push, but it was too late."

Nick Johnson broke the scoreless tie 6:19 into the second period. Nick Johnson started the play with a shot from the right of the net that was saved by McElhinney, but Johnson kept jamming at the puck and it squirted across the crease, where Bouchard was there to lift the rebound into the net.

Phoenix was able to knot the game with 4:58 left in the middle stanza while on the power play. After Langkow's close shot from the left of the net deflected high into the air off of Backstrom, Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon tried to slap the puck away from the inside the crease, but instead smacked it right into the net.

Game Notes

Minnesota fell to 11-6-3 as the host this year, while Phoenix improved to 12-8-1 on the road...Phoenix went 1-for-3 on the power play...Minnesota failed to score on its lone man advantage.

01/01 00:22:39 ET


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