In a battle of the undefeateds in the Western Conference, somebody's 0 had to go, and the Coyotes were that somebody. Much was made about the Wild possibly being rusty after a five day layoff, but it came out and dominated the first period and held off the 'Yotes in the final 20 minutes to win 4-3.
Minnesota has now started with three wins in regulation against some relatively tough teams.
Zach Parise scored the game's first goal, his fifth of the season, when a shot caromed out the right circle. Parise swatted a backhand shot for the power play goal. Minnesota ended the game 1-for-5 with the man-advantage. As the Wild continued to create chances shift after shift, Thomas Vanek (this time) officially netted his 300th career goal to extend the lead to 2-0 just 58 seconds after Parise's goal. Justin Fontaine, who was getting into his first regular season action Thursday night, got the only assist on the Vanek goal. Remember it was that line of Fontaine, Charlie Coyle, and Vanek that seemed to finally get Vanek going last season.
The second period saw mostly the same. Mikko Koivu scored his first of the 2015-16 season shorthanded. Jason Zucker had his defenseman beat, but got held up on the play. There was going to be a delayed penalty on Arizona, but Zucker found Koivu on the left wing side for a one-time wrist shot. After the Coyotes dispatched the Ducks on Wednesday, the legs can take some time to come back on the second night of a back-to-back, and the Coyotes finally broke through Devan Dubnyk. Anthony Duclair scored on a 2-on-1 when Nino Niederreiter tried to force a pass (even though he had the better shooting angle) out to the point and Jonas Brodin. Brodin couldn't handle to puck and Matt Dumba misplayed the 2-on-1 for the goal. Before the PA announcer could even finish the goal announcement, Mikael Granlund capped off a beauty of a tic-tac-toe passing play between Jason Pominville, Parise, then to Granlund.
Arizona rookie phenom Max Domi scored with ten seconds remaining in the second period when Jared Spurgeon attempted to swat the puck out with his glove, but ended up giving it right to Domi and then fell over. Domi is one heck of a player to watch. He's fast, big, and has some really slick hands.
There were total of eight penalties taken by both teams in the third period. The Wild, which had been slightly more disciplined than the Coyotes, started to unravel. They took a Too Many Men call, Steve Downie seemed to get the best of them, and the Wild penalty kill got tested. On a 4-on-4 portion of the game, Michael Stone got lost all alone for a tap in goal on top of the goal crease. With the lead at only one goal, Minnesota's PK stayed perfect on the night, ending 7-for-7.
The Wild continue to win while not playing sharp, or even its best. The team now heads to Los Angeles for a night with the Kings.