Phoenix at Minnesota

Wild score four on power play; Backstrom shuts out Coyotes

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A last-minute change helped out the Minnesota Wild.

Niklas Backstrom stopped 24 shots for his second shutout of the season, and the Wild scored four power-play goals to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 on Thursday night.

Marek Zidlicky scored twice and had an assist for Minnesota, which defeated the Coyotes for the ninth consecutive time. Eric Belanger and Andrew Brunette also scored, and Marc-Andre Bergeron had three assists.

Shortly before the game, Wild coaches adjusted the team's power play to have the defensemen go wider, a move to produce more shots from the point and open things up more.

The Wild, 1-for-21 with a man advantage in their previous five games, finished 4-for-7.

"We didn't even practice it. I guess sometimes when the players don't know what they're doing it works," Belanger said. "It's really hard in this league to score goals 5-on-5. The system and everything is really good. It's hard to get some chances close to the net, the goaltenders are so great. Your power play is going to get you a lot of goals. It got us going."

Backstrom, who beat Tampa Bay 1-0 on Oct. 18, is 8-0 against the Coyotes with a 1.13 goals-against average and three shutouts.

Phoenix, which had won three straight, was shut out for the second time in five games.

"It was a good, old-fashioned butt kicking," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "They played as a team. We played as individuals. They deserved to beat us. They outskated us at each end of the ice."

The Coyotes rarely tested Backstrom because the Wild defense kept them away from the crease. Phoenix often settled for wrist shots from above the dots and failed to get to rebounds.

"It was probably one of the best games for us this season for 60 minutes," Backstrom said. "We didn't give them anything. Our PK was really strong today. We took a lot of penalties, but we killed them. I think that's the sign of a good team."

Phoenix was 0-for-6 on the power play, and is 2-for-28 in its past five games.

After a scoreless first period, Minnesota scored two power-goals in the second.

A one-timer from Zidlicky in the high slot beat Ilya Bryzgalov on the stick side during a two-man advantage early in the period. It was his first goal in 29 games. Afterward he pointed to his wife, Karina, who saw her first Wild home game.

"I've been here without her for two months, so it was exciting," said Zidlicky, acquired from Nashville last summer.

Brunette's goal came 12 minutes later, when he took a touch pass from Zidlicky in the left circle and beat Bryzgalov with a wrist shot.

Bryzgalov is 0-6 against Minnesota, yet was praised by Gretzky for not letting the game get more out of hand.

"Four-nothing is flattery," he said. "If it wasn't for Bryzgalov it would've been 8-0."

Zidlicky's 5-on-3 goal was set up when Brent Burns took a slash from Garth Murray as he closed in on the Phoenix net.

In his return after a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury, Burns -- a defenseman -- moved up to play with Brunette and Belanger in an attempt to add offensive punch to a Wild lineup that had eight goals in five games. Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said he'll likely keep Burns on the wing.

Owen Nolan also returned to the Minnesota lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury. He skated with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu, finishing with two assists. Nolan barely missed on a first-period tip, and his rebound attempt was just wide as he tried to lift a backhander over the fallen Bryzgalov in the second period.

Marian Gaborik missed his 12th consecutive game with a lower-body injury. There is no timetable for his return.

"It was the first time that I feel good behind the bench having pretty much all the guys back, and still our top guy is not there," Lemaire said.

"When Burns will be on top of his game, that line's going to be a lot better. Nolan played fine, but missed three goals. When these guys start to get hot and start to score, it'll be good for our offense."

Belanger scored early in the third, converting a perfect cross-crease pass from Nolan. Zidlicky beat Bryzgalov with a slap shot with 1:07 to play.

"It comes down to the power play," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We had some opportunities. They capitalized on theirs and we didn't on ours. That was the difference in the hockey game."

Notes

  • Backstrom is 43-0-3 when leading after two periods.
  • To make room for Nolan, Krys Kolanos was reassigned to AHL Houston. Kolanos had one goal in two games following his Nov. 3 recall.
  • Phoenix D Derek Morris played his 200th consecutive game.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Niklas Backstrom is rarely tested in notching the 11th shutout of his young NHL career.  (Getty Images)
Niklas Backstrom is rarely tested in notching the 11th shutout of his young NHL career. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Phoenix (8-7-0)0000
Minnesota  (9-4-1) «0224
Three Stars
M. Zidlicky
MIN


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
A. Brunette
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
E. Belanger
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1

Related Video

Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
03:28Power Play - Marek Zidlicky (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Bergeron
15:43Power Play - Andrew Brunette (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Zidlicky, Belanger
3RD PERIOD
03:11Power Play - Eric Belanger (4), Snap Shot. Assist: , Bergeron
18:53Power Play - Marek Zidlicky (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Bergeron,
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
06:27Jokinen, 2 min, Hooking
14:38Miettinen, 2 min, Holding
17:53Clutterbuck, 2 min, Hooking
2ND PERIOD
02:21Yandle, 2 min, Holding
03:01Murray, 2 min, Slashing
07:14Reitz, 2 min, Hooking
11:55Koivu, 2 min, Hooking
15:12Morris, 2 min, Hooking
18:30Burns, 2 min, High-Sticking
3RD PERIOD
02:42Mueller, 2 min, Interference
03:15Yandle, 5 min, Fighting
03:15Clutterbuck, 5 min, Fighting
12:16Skoula, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
17:04Turris, 2 min, High-Sticking
17:55Jovanovski, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Phoenix510924
Minnesota1391032
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Ilya Bryzgalov59:42284
Niklas Backstrom59:49240
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Phoenix0-for-6
Minnesota4-for-7
Game Information
Attendance - 18568
Referees - Mike Hasenfratz, Justin St. Pierre
Linesmen - Brad Lazarowich, Mark Shewchyk
 
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