Coming off a big win against the Winnipeg Jets this past Friday, the Minnesota Wild looked to continue their two-game win streak on Hockey Fights Cancer Night against the struggling Arizona Coyotes. For the first time this season, the Wild’s defensive group did not consist of the same 6 players as Nate Prosser
made snuck his way back into the lineup for only the 2nd time this season. Greg Pateryn was out due to illness, giving Prosser his first game of the season at his natural position.
The game was at an all time high for the Wild, then it took a dark dive low. A 3rd period collapse after playing arguably one of their best periods of the season and a shaky performance by goaltender Devan Dubnyk will surely do the trick for that.
Despite only having 14 shots on goal, the Arizona Coyotes came out on top 4-3 over the Minnesota Wild.
The Coyotes opened the scoring early after a bad shift by the Wild’s 3rd pair of defenseman, which set up a defensive face-off. Eric Fehr lost the draw and Nick Cousins won it back to Josh Archibald who then drop passed it off to Lawson Crouse as he fired the puck past Devan Dubnyk off a set face-off play executed perfectly by the Arizona Coyotes. The Wild once again started the game down a goal.
Down but not down for long as the Wild stroke right back. After coming close to scoring during their first shift, the Parise-Koivu-Coyle line got the equalizer, after a rim-around the boards dump in by Jared Spurgeon ended up on the captain’s stick. Quickly after getting the puck, Mikko Koivu sent a beautiful pass through a couple of sticks for a backdoor tap in for Charlie Coyle. A truly beautiful pass by Koivu.
Shortly after Coyle scored his 4th of the year, the 4th line barely missed a couple of great scoring chances. After a good play in the neutral zone by Nino Niederreiter sending J.T. Brown and Eric Fehr in on a 2-on-1, Brown sent a pass over to Fehr for an in-close chance but Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta denied Fehr with a pad. Although, the 4th line did not score it was a good shift for the 4th line and a Grade A chance for the Wild.
Scoring chances kept coming for the Wild in the first period. Around the 6 minute mark, Jason Zucker was noticeably buzzing all over the ice. He had a great shot on goal, then picked up his own rebound and unfortunately for the Wild, Zucker missed a wide open wrap around attempt.
With many chances in the first period, the Wild outshot the Coyotes 12 to 6 in the first frame but were still tied with the Coyotes on the scoresheet at 1-1.
Starting the second period, Jason Zucker continued to buzz all over the ice and almost put the Wild up during his first shift of the period. He came very close to scoring from the slot, spinning around with a shot on the ice that hit the right post.
Soon thereafter Joel Eriksson Ek drew a penalty on Nick Cousins for tripping, putting the Wild a man up for the second time.
The Wild capitalized on the ensuing power-play, taking the lead for the first time. It was a very weird goal, but such a beautiful goal as well.
Dumba’s shot gets deflected, misses the net, bounces off the glass behind, and then Zach Parise bats the puck out of mid-air to give the Wild a 2-1 lead and his team leading 11th goal of the season.
Jason Zucker just continued to buzz around the ice. A big hit by Zucker (yes, you read that correctly) led to a surge by the Wild. I am not kidding you when I tell you the Wild had a rotating shift of players held the zone for a full 3 minutes shortly following Zucker’s big hit on Coyotes forward Kevin Connauton. The Wild absolutely dominated, leading to chances for Joel Ericksson Ek in the slot and Marcus Foligno coming close on a rebound that bounced too far out of his reach out front of the net.
The “buzz” continues. Jason Zucker scored with an absolute snipe on Antti Raanta. After a quick regroup with defenseman Jared Spurgeon sending a nice pass to Zucker before the blue line, Zucker used Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski as a screen and ripped it past Raanta to give the Wild some insurance and a 3-1 lead. This was Zucker’s first goal in 5 games and only his 3rd in the past 16 games. The assist coming from Jared Spurgeon made it his second 3-assist game of his career.
For what seemed like an all Wild period, the Coyotes finally got a shot on net with 2:54 remaining in the 2nd period. During the period, Arizona had 16 shot attempts but only 1 shot forced Dubnyk to make a stop. A stop that was not too hard to stop, I might add. Coyotes forward Clayton Keller sent a wrister on net from above the circles with nobody screening the Wild goaltender, making it a very routine save for Devan Dubnyk. The Wild took it to the Yotes in this frame and perhaps the teams’ most dominant period played this season. Good defense and puck possession drove play in favor of the Wild.
To start the third period Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet decided to try and get something going with his team and put in his backup goalie, 22-year-old Adin Hill. Prior to tonight, Hill had only played in 1 NHL game this season and a total of 5 games in his young career.
The goalie switch must have worked wonders because the Coyotes suddenly looked like a different team than the one we saw in the first two periods. 3 minutes and 7 seconds into the third period, Brainerd, Minnesota native Josh Archibld was gifted a behind the back pass from Lawson Crouse and didn’t make a mistake to beat Dubnyk blocker high for his first goal of the season. The goal was challenged by Wild bench boss Bruce Boudreau for offsides, but after a couple of minutes the play was determined to be onsides and a good goal. Obviously, it was not a good start by the Wild and their lead was cut to just one goal after dominating play most of the game.
After killing off the penalty for a missed challenge, the bad play by the Wild continued. Minutes after killing off the penalty, Michael Grabner was left out front all alone and buried it five-hole on Devan Dubnyk for his 6th of the season. After dominating the whole game, the Wild suddenly found themselves in a tie hockey game. All it took was 7 minutes and the Wild had thrown away their lead to the Coyotes.
The Wild’s atrocious 3rd period continued. Again, the Minnesota native, Archibald found his way on the scoresheet as he scored on a breakaway after a beautiful stretch pass from another Minnesota native, Alex Goligoski. The Coyotes had regained the lead. Archibald had gotten his second goal and third point of the night and in 8 minutes and 39 seconds into the final period, the Wild had collapsed and the tables were turned down 4-3.
Not much changed throughout the third and Devan Dubnyk headed off to the bench for an extra attacker with 2:03 remaining in the 3rd, but it did not matter. The Wild could not muster up much, if any chances. The puck was for the most part on the boards being rotated around like a horseshoe.
The clock struck 0’s and the Coyotes defeated the Wild 4-3 in regulation. So much for the narrative, “The Wild are a 3rd period team”.