Kuemper has 27 saves, Wild beat Coyotes for 7th straight win (Dec 17, 2016)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Unlike most teams on long winning streaks, the Minnesota Wild aren't shy about discussing theirs. There's a difference in opinion, though, about how much they're talking about it.
''Bruce (Boudreau) always talks about it, so it's hard to ignore,'' Ryan Suter said of his coach after the Wild beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday for their seventh-straight victory. ''It's something neat that we've got going and we've got to continue to ride the wave as long as we can.''
Boudreau, meanwhile, said he simply ''mentioned'' the streak to his team after Saturday's game.
''Seven is a tough thing to get to,'' Boudreau said, so I think it's worth telling them that they've done well.''
And no one's debating that the Wild are indeed playing well these days.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 27 shots in his first start in nearly three weeks, and the Wild got goals from Suter and Tyler Graovac, who both ended goal-scoring droughts of at least 13 games. Chris Stewart and Eric Stall also scored for the Wild. Minnesota has won seven in a row for the first time since March 2013.
''It's fun to be a part of this team when we're winning like this,'' said Graovac, who logged a career-high 18:45 of ice time after Erik Haula went down with a lower-body injury in the first period. Haula's loss forced Boudreau to rotate three centers among his four lines, but the shift hardly seemed to affect Minnesota's offense.
''It was good to see that no matter who you were playing with the chemistry was there,'' Stewart said.
Kuemper started for the first time since a 5-4 loss at Vancouver on Nov. 29. The Wild, who began the day six points behind Central Division-leading Chicago, haven't lost in regulation since and have outscored opponents 25-10 in the win streak.
Brendan Perlini ended Kuemper's shutout bid with less than two minutes remaining, and Mike Smith made 26 saves for the Coyotes, facing several close shots and at least a couple that hit off the posts.
''We gave up probably more grade-A chances than we have in a while,'' Connor Murphy said. ''We left Smitty out to make huge saves almost every shift. That was really frustrating how we didn't play hard enough to get a better effort.''
Stewart's fifth goal of the season made it 3-0 at 3:24 of the third, and Staal added an empty netter with 36 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.
At one point in the second, a shot by Nino Niederreiter trickled between Smith's pads before Murphy narrowly saved it from going in.
''We knew we were a tired group so once we start chasing the game you end up giving up lots of opportunities,'' coach Dave Tippett said.
Suter's fifth goal of the season and first in 16 games came with 3:20 left in the first on Minnesota's second power play on a long shot just below the blue line. Then, with 8 1/2 minutes left in the second, Graovac scored unassisted on a breakaway when his shot from the right side found its way through Smith's pads and off his skate into the net.
It was Graovac's first goal in 13 games and third of the season.
Arizona finished its four-game road trip 2-2. ... Murphy returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper body injury. ... Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson had three penalties, including two for hooking. It's the second time in four games he's had three penalties. He entered the game with 18 penalty minutes. ''His game is not where it needs to be right now. He needs to find a way to have a bigger impact for our group to be successful,'' Tippet said.'' ... Boudrea said he'd know more about Haula's injury on Monday at practice. ... Stewart scored for the third time in eight games after scoring only twice in his first 22.
Coyotes: Host Calgary on Monday.
Wild: Host Colorado on Tuesday.