Wild win fourth straight
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Minnesota Wild aren’t letting anything derail their New Year’s resolution for better play, not even the loss of two superstars.
With forwards Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise both on injured reserve, Minnesota got a hat trick from right winger Justin Fontaine and the game-winner from Coyotes killer Kyle Brodziak to beat Phoenix 4-1 Thursday at Jobing.com Arena.
The win improved the Wild to 4-0-0 in 2014 with wins over the Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix. The latest victory also pushed Minnesota into eighth place in the Western Conference standings, two points ahead of the Coyotes, who fell to 3-6-2 in their past 11 home games since a 9-0-1 start.
With the score tied at 1 early in the third period, Brodziak stole the puck from Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle at the Wild blue line, raced in alone on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith and banked a shot off Smith’s body for a 2-1 lead.
The goal was the 85th of Brodziak’s career. Eight came against the Coyotes. Left winger Matt Cooke posted his second assist of the game and sixth in the past seven games on the goal.
Later in the third, Fontaine took advantage of a freakish bounce off forward Jason Pominville’s dump-in. Smith was behind the net to make the play, but the puck banked off the glass to the front of the goal, where Fontaine was able to tap it in for a 3-1 lead. He added an empty-net goal to complete the hat trick.
Fontaine got the Wild rolling when he took advantage of another bad turnover by Yandle in his own zone. With Yandle and center Mike Ribeiro defending Cooke on a rush, Yandle threw a blind, backhand clearing pass up the Coyotes’ slot. Fontaine was trailing the play, and he picked up the loose puck before beating Smith high. Yandle also appeared to screen Smith on the play.
Phoenix answered with a power-play goal at 2:04 of the second period. Coyotes left winger Shane Doan centered a pass from behind the net to right winger Mikkel Boedker, who whipped a backhand just under Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom’s arm for his career-high 14th goal of the season and fourth goal in his past five games.
Smith made 24 saves for the win. Backstrom stopped 39 shots.
Notes: Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a head injury. ... Wild LW Zach Parise (lower body), G Josh Harding (illness), D Jared Spurgeon (lower body) and C Mikko Koivu (ankle fracture) are all on injured reserve and missed the game. ... Coyotes RW Mikkel Boedker has a goal in four of his past five games after scoring Thursday. ... After enduring an 0-for-15 slump on the power play, Phoenix has power-play goals in its past two games. ... Entering Thursday night’s game, Wild D Ryan Suter led the NHL in ice time per game at 29 minutes, 41 seconds. ... Wild D Keith Ballard, a former Coyote who was a healthy scratch Thursday, is a minus-13 in the last 19 games that he played.