NHL Game Summary - Phoenix at Minnesota
(Tuesday, March 20th)
Final Score: Minnesota 3, Phoenix 2
St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik each had a goal and an assist, and the Minnesota Wild set a franchise record with their seventh consecutive victory, edging the Phoenix Coyotes, 3-2, at XCel Energy Center.
Todd White also scored, and Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves for the Wild, who are 11-1-2 in their last 14 tilts. With 93 points, Minnesota is now just a point behind Vancouver in the Northwest Division and sits in the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
"It's a big two points," said Gaborik. "I don't think we played to our potential. It's always hard playing against teams when they're out of the playoffs. They have nothing to lose. They just play hard. I think we didn't really play like we wanted to, but we still got two points and we've got important games coming up so we've gotta get better while we're playing at home and just peak."
Niko Kapanen had a goal and an assist, and Bill Thomas also tallied for lowly Phoenix, which has lost four straight and nine of its last 10 overall. Curtis Joseph surrendered three goals on 26 shots in the contest.
Minnesota drew first blood when Gaborik went around Derek Morris and sent a hard shot off the glove of Joseph, and Demitra stuffed the rebound chance right past the netminder with seven seconds remaining in the first period.
A pair of late goals in the second sparked the Wild to a 3-0 lead.
White made it 2-0 when, on the power play, he wristed a shot that snuck past Joseph at 19:17.
Then, just 20 seconds later, Gaborik made it 3-0 when he took a feed from Demitra just off the crease, stabbed at the puck and collected his own rebound, which he banged underneath the glove of Joseph with 22.4 ticks left in the period.
Phoenix got one back in the third when, on the man-advantage, Brendan Bell fired a shot from the right circle that breezed through traffic and was tipped by Kapanen past a screened Backstrom at 7:53.
The Coyotes drew within 3-2 when Travis Roche took the initial shot, and, camped off the left side, Thomas wristed the puck into the wide open net at 10:34.
"A lot of times when you're not playing for the playoffs that's what it's all about," said Joseph, of his team's late effort. "You don't wanna be embarrassed. You wanna play to the best of your ability, and we know what two points...what they do at the beginning of the year when you're making a run for it, but certainly it's about pride and taking pride in what you do."
Minnesota netminder Manny Fernandez missed practice on Tuesday and will rest his sprained left knee for the next few days. Fernandez suffered the injury on January 20 and aggravated it 10 days later. The team said an MRI test on Monday revealed no structural damage...The Wild play seven of their final eight regular season contests at the Xcel Energy Center, where they are 24-6-4 and have won four of their last five...Phoenix has dropped three of four to Minnesota this season.
03/21 00:10:08 ET