Coyotes Can't Convert Chances, Fall To Minnesota Wild At Home

Despite outshooting the Wild, the Coyotes couldn't get much past Niklas Backstrom, falling 3-2 at Arena.

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Niklas Backstrom Stands Tall As Minnesota Wild Down Coyotes In Phoenix

On yet another night where the Phoenix Coyotes outplayed their opponent for the majority of the game, they still came up short, dropping a close one to the Minnesota Wild by a count of 3-2.  

The Coyotes outshot the Wild, as they have done so much in recent games, but Minnesota struck first and didn't look back. Andrew Brunette opened up the scoring on a lightning quick backhand that Ilya Bryzgalov never really had a chance to stop. Taylor Pyatt's goal leveled the score, but was followed by a Brent Burns goal to wrap up the first.

The second period may have been one of the most evenly matched periods in the NHL this season. There were no goals or penalties for either side, with the Wild outshooting the Yotes 11-10 in the period. That would mark the only period that Minny outshot Phoenix in the contest.

Andrew Brunette's second goal of the game came midway through the third, on the power play, which may have been the back breaker for the Coyotes. Minnesota gave them a pair of late chances, sending Phoenix on the power play twice in the last bit of the third, but Taylor Pyatt's second goal of the game was as close as they would get.

Despite the strong play from Pyatt, his second straight quality outing, the Coyotes ran into another goaltender that just would not let anything by him. Despite 35 shots, including 14 combined from Keith Yandle and Radim Vrbata, Niklas Backstrom allowed just the pair of goals. This came as a huge surprise given the 19 he allowed in his previous four starts.

It certainly seems like the Coyotes continue to have rotten matchups in opposing goaltenders. They continue to play either a desperate team or a struggling goaltender who is looking to get back on track. In recent weeks it has happened with Pekka Rinne, Scott Clemmenssen, and on Thursday night it was Backstrom.

Though they did suffer the loss, the Coyotes continued to display their team game, with five different Yotes registering points. That group included recent call up Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who notched an assist on Pyatt's first goal. 

After yet another heart breaker, the Coyotes turn their attention to once again defending their home ice, when the division rival Dallas Stars invade Arena on Saturday.


Coyotes Host Struggling Minnesota Wild In Phoenix On Thursday

After nearly a week of rest, the Phoenix Coyotes will hit the ice on Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Wild at Arena. Neither team has played since the weekend, with Minnesota having last played on Saturday, and the Yotes since Sunday.

The two teams met a week ago in Minnesota, with the Coyotes coming out on the winning side of a 4-2 game, with a pair of goals from Scottie Upshall. Phoenix dominated the play at full strength and managed to stay out of the penalty box, leading to the win.

Offensively, these two teams are contrasts of each other. The Coyotes have the ability to strike fast, and with seemingly anybody on the ice, while Minnesota ranks just 24th in the league in goals per game and are dead last in shots per game.

The only real lineup change for the Coyotes will come on the blue line. Recently called up Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to be in the lineup. Bruiser Nolan Yonkman didn't play on Sunday after a rough game on Saturday, with Sami Lepisto getting the start in his place. OEL will most likely be in the lineup over both of them.

Perhaps the biggest reason the Coyotes are looking forward to Thursday's contest is the presence of Niklas Backstrom between the pipes for Minny. The struggles of the Finnish goaltender have led to more starts for the veteran Jose Theodore, who started the last game between these two teams. Backstrom has lost four in a row and has given up 19 goals in that skid.

Last week, Jason LaBarbera got the nod in goal for the Yotes, but it will be Ilya Bryzgalov in the crease on Thursday night. Bryz has been lights out, giving up more than two goals in just one of his last six starts, in that six goal disaster against the Anaheim Ducks.

Thursday presents the Coyotes with an opportunity to jump on a struggling club while they're down. They failed to do it against the Florida Panthers over the weekend, but did spend most of the game being stoned by keeper Scott Clemmenssen. If Niklas Backstrom's woes of late are any indication, the Coyotes shouldn't have a problem putting points on the scoreboard.

A win for Phoenix would be their sixth in a row over the Wild. However, the Yotes can't afford to look past the struggling Wild, with division rival Dallas coming to town Saturday, as they will surely be looking for every way possible to end their slide.

The game starts at 7:00 p.m. Arizona time and will be televised locally on FSAZ in Phoenix, and on XTRA Sports 910. Fans can follow along with the live game thread at Five for Howling.

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