Wild come up short against Phoenix
By Jamie MacDonald
February 5, 2011
This time, there would be no late-game heroics.
The last time the Wild and Coyotes met, back on Jan. 2 in Saint Paul, the hosts provided the home crowd with a New Year's treat of an improbable win. Minnesota was up 3-1 and 4-3 in that one, but wound up needing a game-tying goal at 19:34 of the third to salvage a point, which was then trumped in overtime by a slap shot that trickled through Ilya Bryzgalov's pads for a 6-5 win.
On Saturday at Jobing.com Arena, again down a goal, again with their goaltender pulled and again with pressure in the Phoenix end in the closing seconds, the Wild were instead held off the board in a 1-0 loss that allowed the Coyotes to jump them in the Western Conference standings.
Entering Saturday's game, those standings found the teams locked at 59 points, though the Wild and Coyotes seemed to be headed in different directions. Minnesota, with three straight wins, had moved to No. 7 in the West, while Phoenix had lost five straight at home, three straight overall and six of eight to slip to No. 8.
And yet as the game unfolded, even in what was a scoreless tie long enough for Niklas Backstrom to set a record for consecutive shutout minutes, it was Phoenix generating more dangerous chances more often.
In all, the Coyotes took 41 shots while allowing only 25. Phoenix, which thanks to Dave Tippett can bottle opponents up, was able to keep the Wild from playing their game as often as they might have liked.
NO. 1 STAR
Without Backstrom, Minnesota may have found itself in a deeper hole.
Though the three stars selected in Phoenix did not include him, Backstrom certainly earned a mention.
Backstrom was handcuffed on a few first-period shots, but he kept the Coyotes off the board