Don't get mad, get even.
That is exactly what the Phoenix Coyotes did after starting the season 1-4.
The Coyotes are now riding a five game point streak as they defeated the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Monday night. With the win, the Coyotes are now 4-4-2 this season.
[Complete Coverage] - [Minnesota Reaction]
The Coyotes emerged from a far from boring opening period with a 1-0 lead. Goalie Mike Smith had some troubles (not entirely his fault) when it came to handling the puck in the period. That was never more apparent than when Smith was caught at the side of the net as the puck was travelling through the crease. A few minutes after falling over the blue line and giving up a breakaway, Keith Yandle made a kick save (and a beauty!) to keep the puck out of the net. Shortly after Yandle saved a goal, he created one of his own as Lauri Koprikoski tipped a Yandle point shot past Niklas Backstrom for the only goal of the period. David Schlemko injured what appeared to be his shoulder during the only Coyotes power play of the period. He did not return. After the game, Dave Tippett classified Schlemko as week-to-week.
Phoenix was shot-less through the first seven minutes of the second period, but two quick shots helped put the Yotes up two. Martin Hanzal continued his surge, since returning from his recent injury, as he put a rebound from a Radim Vrbata shot past Backstrom. After the Desert Dogs extended their lead, the Wild dominated the rest of the period. Zach Parise cut the lead to one after capitalizing on a Zbynek Michalek turnover. Minnesota had scoring chance after scoring chance (including a post) and took control of the game as the period came to a close.
Back-and-forth the teams went in the third period as each team had their fair share of scoring chances. Twice loose pucks got behind Backstrom in the blue paint and both times the Coyotes failed to score. The Wild could not convert on their only power play opportunity of the game and even allowed a Steve Sullivan breakaway after the penalty ended. Phoenix would kill off a late Minnesota penalty en route to victory.
- New Wild acquisition Mike Rupp did not play.
- Coyotes had 17 shots in the first period
- Korpikoski scored on yet another Finnish goaltender. All four of his goals this season have been scored on Finnish goalies.
- Hanzal has scored a point in all three games since returning from injury
- Mike Smith's shutout streak ended at 121:06
- Parise's goal was the 200th of his career.
Five For Winning:
1. Special Teams. The Coyotes have been good on the penalty kill, and they have had an impressive power play point streak, but there were eight Dallas penalties on Saturday and the Yotes only scored one power play goal. If the other team is going to give up that many power play chances, the team needs to score and make them pay. Special teams were not a huge part of the game as only three total penalties were called; two on Phoenix.
2. Clog the neutral zone. Minnesota has some offensive talent and the Coyotes can not give them chances to score. That starts with not giving them a chance to set up their offense. They definitely did this well against the Stars, and because of it Dallas only had no goals on only 17 shots. The Yotes did a good job of keeping Minnesota contained in the first period, but all that went out the window after the Coyotes went up 2-0. The Wild controlled the flow of play and generated numerous chances in the second period. The flow normalized I the third as both teams had their fair share of scoring opportunities.
3. Stay disciplined. The Coyotes had only two penalties against Dallas but they have taken some terrible penalties earlier this season (the bench minor for too many men on the ice definitely stands out). This is especially true for Raffi Torres who played a very clean, yet physical first game back since his 21-game suspension. The Coyotes only took two penalties in the game, and killed off both. The lack of penalties against recently is a comforting trend the Coyotes hope to keep up.
4. Score first. The story of the season for the Coyotes thus far is that they have spent most of it playing from behind. While they are a team that is able to handle that, things are much easier when they have the lead. The Coyotes were able to score first in the game as Korpikoski scored his fourth goal of the season with just about five minutes remaining in the first period.
5. Pretend it's last year. Last season the Coyotes did not lose a game in regulation for the entire month of February. If they can get into that mindset and play the way they did last year, maybe we can see an equally impressive feat this season. Just like last year, the Coyotes are yet to lose in regulation during the month of February! There is still a long way to go in the month, but the Coyotes are off to a 2-0-1 start.
Our Three Stars Of The Game
1. Mike Smith: Allowed only one goal on 22 shots. Another solid game for Smitty.
2. Niklas Backstrom: Was peppered with shots. Allowed only two goals on 34 total shots.
3. Zbynek Michalek: Recorded his first point of the season and had a ton of shots and shot blocks. He also played a ton of minutes after Schlemko left with an injury.
The Coyotes play again on Thursday night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. The game will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams, but the first with Torres in the lineup.