Minnesota Wild vs Phoenix Coyotes recap: turnover troubles

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

The Minnesota Wild defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 on Thursday night.

There's a fine line between winning and losing in the NHL.

A pair of turnovers and a strange bounce were the difference in the Phoenix Coyotes' 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

Justin Fontaine scored a hat trick for Minnesota while Mike Smith saved 25-of-28 shots, with all three goals allowed on a defensive miscue or an odd bounce.

Phoenix out-shot, out-possessed and out-played Minnesota for most of the game, but could not get out of its own way.

The mistakes were bad, but the lasting memory for coach Dave Tippett was his team's inability to capitalize on quality opportunities.

"For me, it was less about the mistakes we made than not capitalizing on the opportunities we had," Tippett said.

That sentiment was echoed by captain Shane Doan.

"It's frustrating we didn't score more than one goal. Come on, we gotta get more than one," Doan said. "With that many chances, we gotta get more than one."

The Coyotes had opportunities in the first period, but could not escape a rather benign opening period unscathed.

A very poor backhand clearing attempt by Keith Yandle landed on the stick of Fontaine who had all the time in the world to shoot. And shoot he did, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead with 1:19 remaining in the first period.

"The first goal is kind of a miscommunication. I think Yandle thought (Mike) Ribeiro was going to get it and Ribeiro was holding up (an attacker) for Yandle," Tippett said. "Ultimately, we give the puck away that ends up in the back of our net."

Phoenix's initial deficit wasn't anything a good ol' fashioned power play goal couldn't solve.

With Matt Cooke in the box for cross-checking Martin Hanzal well behind the play, the Coyotes evened the game at one on Mikkel Boedker's team-leading 14th goal of the season. Doan found Boedker in front of the Wild net and the Dane completed a pirouette at the top of the crease before backhanding the puck past Niklas Backstrom. Boedker partially fanned on the shot but the puck found its way through the Minnesota netminder anyway.

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, another Yandle turnover resulted in another Minnesota goal.

A turnover near the Coyotes' blue line allowed Kyle Brodziak to skate in on a partial breakaway. Brodziak's wrist shot hit Smith in the forearm and caromed into the net for his fourth goal of the season.

If the mistakes weren't enough, a bad bounce made the Coyotes' night even worse.

An innocent looking dump in by Jason Pominville ricocheted off the corner glass to Smith's left as the goalie vacated his net to play the puck. The puck jumped off the glass and bounced into the crease instead of following its initial path behind the net. Fontaine dove into the crease to smack it in for his second goal of the game, giving the Wild a 3-1 lead.

The Wild added an insurance marker on Fontaine's hat trick goal into the empty net to seal a 4-1 victory.

Phoenix's loss to Minnesota pushes them out of the top-8 in the Western Conference. The Coyotes sit two points behind the eighth place Wild with three games in hand.

Paw Prints

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Justin Fontaine - First career hat trick.

2. Niklas Backstrom - Stopped 39-of-40 shots.

3. Kyle Brodziak - A goal and an assist including the game-winner.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes wrap up their six-game home stand on Saturday night against Pacific Division rival Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. and tailgating opens at 2 p.m.

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