NHL Game Summary - Phoenix at Minnesota
(Wednesday, November 28th)
Final Score: Minnesota 3, Phoenix 1
St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - James Sheppard had a goal and an assist as Minnesota cooled off Phoenix, posting a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center.
Stephane Veilleux and the red-hot Marian Gaborik also scored for the Wild, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since the beginning of the month. Aaron Voros had a pair of helpers and Niklas Backstrom made 21 saves in the victory.
Gaborik has scored eight of his team-high nine goals in his last nine games. He's also scored seven goals during a six-game streak against the Coyotes.
The Wild also benefited from the return of Pavol Demitra, who had been sidelined with a groin injury, but were still missing several key players. Mikko Koivu (leg), Derek Boogaard (back), Kurtis Foster (face) and Petteri Nummelin all missed the game.
Radim Vrbata had the lone tally and Ilja Bryzgalov stopped 25-of-28 shots for Phoenix, which had a four-game win streak halted. It was Bryzgalov's first loss since being acquired off waivers from Anaheim on November 17.
After a scoreless first period, Minnesota powered its way to a 2-0 lead in the second.
Veilleux got things started when he collected the puck off the endboards and threw it toward the crease for Voros, who failed to put it home. Sheppard also got a whack at the rebound before Veilleux skated in and pushed the loose puck past Bryzgalov just 4:02 into the second period.
Gaborik then made it 2-0 when he intercepted a pass at the blueline and went end-to-end with Coyotes' defenseman Keith Ballard hopelessly giving chase. Gaborik then skillfully pulled off a series of dekes before finding the back of the cage on a forehand shot with 2:31 remaining.
"Defintely on the road we didn't wanna be down anything," said Coyotes defenseman Nick Boynton of the team trying to climb out a 2-0 hole. "You know we played pretty well, but then gave up a breakaway to Gaborik, which we know we can't be doing. He had a few (chances) this game and Bryzgalov saved us, but if you do that enough he's gonna kill you."
Phoenix answered 27 seconds into the third, as Vrbata knocked the puck out of midair in the right faceoff circle and deflected it past Backstrom. The goal was reviewed to see if it came off a high stick, but the call stood after a lengthy delay.
Sheppard restored the two-goal edge, though, when he collected the puck during a scrum in the crease and managed to poke it past Bryzgalov at 9:26.
"We knew at the start this wasn't going to be a high-scoring game," said Sheppard. "It was played very tight in the first period and I think it's a matter of hard work. We knew one of the two goals (in the second period) was going to be big, and every one of our goals was big. We worked at it the whole game, played all 60 minutes and that's what got us the win."
Phoenix hasn't won at Xcel Energy Center since a 4-2 victory on November 8, 2005...Each team was 0-for-2 on the power play...Vrbata has four goals and two assists in his last three games...Minnesota avoided losing three straight on home ice for the first time since January 9-16, 2006.
11/28 23:43:34 ET