An optimist would say the Coyotes showed marked improvement in their all-around game, playing their best even strength hockey of the last couple months. A pessimist would retort by pointing out that Arizona blew a lead with less than six minutes to play and subsequently lost its ninth consecutive home game.
Both points of view are correct.
The Coyotes played with a passion and energy not seen in quite some time -- controlling 5v5 play throughout the game. Alas, a Zach Parise power play goal, Minnesota's second of the night, capped off a poor night for Arizona's penalty kill and allowed the Wild to hang around long enough to force overtime and eventually conquer the shootout.
"If we play like that, night in and night out, we'll get better results," head coach Dave Tippett said. "We said the other night, we are going to have to play harder, we are going to have to be harder to play against and we were tonight, simple as that."
Strong goaltending from Devan Dubnyk kept the Coyotes in the game, as he stopped 29-of-30 even strength shots. However, a poor penalty kill doomed the Coyotes, and Dubnyk, to yet another loss.
"He gave us a chance to win," Tippett said of Dubnyk. "He gave us a chance, that's all you want. He battled just like our team battled."
Well, it's a start.
"We carried the play a lot," Antoine Vermette said. "We have been talking about following good shifts each wave. I thought we did that for the most part tonight (and) some good things happened on the competitive side. We stayed on the puck and won some battles -- it's tough when you don't get the result you wished to have.
"But like I said, it's a start and a process."
After coming into the contest with the 25th-ranked penalty kill, the Coyotes killed off just one of Minnesota's three power plays, as an early man-advantage goal by the Wild foreshadowed a night of struggles 5-on-4.
The Coyotes surrendered the first goal of the game just 2:48 into the contest. Nino Niederreiter deflected a Ryan Suter slapshot from the point behind Dubynk for just the Wild's second power play goal on the road this season.
Arizona did not sulk, however, responding with a power play goal of its own 1:04 later. Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his sixth of the season on a lethal one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Mikkel Boedker. Four of Ekman-Larsson's six goals this season have come with the man advantage.
"I thought we played with a lot of confidence tonight, and that's how we have to play. We need to make plays and get it deep, which is what we got the chance to do tonight," Ekman-Larsson said.
The Coyotes picked up where they left off in the first with a quick goal to begin the middle frame.
A little puck luck finally went Arizona's way as Vermette picked up his eighth goal of the season after the puck deflected off a Wild defender before ricocheting of Niklas Backstrom and into the net 1:40 into the period.
The teams traded goals in the back-half of the second period, beginning with Jason Zucker's breakaway that tied the game at two. But the Coyotes answered back just before intermission with a 3-on-1 opportunity created by Kyle Chipchura and finished by Lauri Korpikoski. It was No. 28's first goal in nearly a month.
But much like the first period, a penalty kill late in the game ultimately cost Arizona a point in the standings. A backdoor tap-in by Parise with 5:53 remaining in regulation was enough to propel the game into extra time.
Dubnyk made a spectacular point-blank save on Mikko Koivu early in the OT to keep the clock running. Koivu got his revenge in the shootout, scoring the game-winning goal.
- Minnesota's perspective: Hockey Wilderness
- The Wild were forced to play a man down after defenseman Jared Spurgeon left warm-ups with an illness.
- Boedker leads all Coyotes in points on home ice with 11 (7-4-11).
- Vermette and Boedker each extended their point streak to three games.
- The Coyotes are 5-1-2 when leading after two periods this season.
- Attendance: 13,975
1. Ryan Suter - A pair of assists and played nearly 34 minutes.
2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Goal and assist in OEL's best night in a while.
3. Jason Pominville - A pair of primary assists on Minnesota's second and third goals.
The Coyotes cap off their five-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.