Minnesota Wild goalie Matt Hackett (31) makes a save as Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres (37) slides into the net during the second period at the Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
The Phoenix Coyotes would storm back from a two-goal deficit early in the third period behind goals from Raffi Torres and Lauri Korpikoski, but the Minnesota WIld would come out on top in a shootout 3-2.
The Coyotes have been plagued by bad first periods, being outscored by their opponents 14-3 in their last eight games. They have yet to capture the all-important first goal in any of their games in March as well and have had to continually battle from behind. They have allowed the first two goals in each of their five games in March.
In Thursday's game the Coyotes were faced with the same problems. Kyle Brodziak would tip in a shot for his 17th goal of the year at 4:06 of the first period, and then less than a minute later Steven Kampfer would put in a shot from the point through traffic for his first.
Jason LaBarbera got to the start in net for the 'Yotes and gave Mike Smith a much needed rest. LaBarbera started out shaky in the first, but would recover in the next two periods to give his team a chance to capture a win. He would end up stopping 22 of 24 shots against the Wild.
It was not from lack of trying that the Coyotes lost Thursday. They threw 52 shots towards the net in the first two periods, but 20 were blocked by players and 32 were stopped by goalies.
As quickly as the Wild got the lead in the first period, the Coyotes erased it at the beginning of the third. The scrappy Torres would put in his 11th of the year, and Lauri Korpikoski would net his 15th on a beautiful pass from trade deadline acquisition Antoine Vermette.
The Wild had goalies Matt Hackett and Josh Harding combine for the win. Harding made a big save while the Coyotes were on the power play, but was forced to leave with an injury. Hackett would let in two goals but play well enough in the shootout to get his team a win.
The shootout was an emotional roller coaster. Veteran Ray Whitney would put in the Coyotes first opportunity by firing a laser past Hackett, but then Erik Christensen would do the same at the other end. After two rounds of missed shots Captain Coyote, Shane Doan had a chance to put his team ahead. Doan came down and looked as if he was going to go backhand, but pulled up and pulled the puck across the crease and snuck it in.
Former 50-goal scorer Danny Heatley came down with speed, got the puck on his backhand and put the puck through the legs of LaBarbera to give the Wild their first win of the month.
The Coyotes remain in seventh place with the loss, just a point ahead of San Jose, but fell three points behind Dallas for the Pacific Division lead. After an 11-0-1 February the Coyotes have gone 0-4-1 in March.
Saturday the Coyotes will meet up with the San Jose Sharks in an important Pacific Division matchup. Puck drops at 6 p.m. at Jobing.com Arena.