File this one in the "a-win’s-a-win" category for the Minnesota Wild.
They finally beat the Arizona Coyotes this season after a pair of losses, so that monkey is off their backs. The Wild found their way to a 3-1 victory Saturday night and escaped some poor defensive play to get the two points. Marcus Foligno scored the game-winner.
“Overall at the end of the day, we got the win, and that’s all that matters,” said Nino Niederreiter.
The Wild finish the season 1-1-1 against Arizona. With the victory, they also won both games in a back-to-back series on the road for the second time this season. The other set came against New Jersey and the New York Rangers Feb. 22-23.
It was a 1-0 lead for the Wild on Niederreiter’s 17th goal of the season at 7:35 of the first period. The Wild had some offensive zone time early on but didn’t register a shot until this scoring sequence. Matt Dumba took a shot from the circles, and Niederreiter buried the rebound at the front of the crease. Ryan Suter had the second assist. The Wild had their first two shots on goal with that bang-bang play.
Then it was a familiar script in the second period when it comes to the second night of back-to-back games for the Wild. Excuses aside, the Wild couldn’t stop coughing up the puck and failing to connect on passes.
The results included a pair of 2-on-0 chances for the Coyotes. They capitalized on the first one, with rookie Clayton Keller’s 20th goal of the season on the breakaway about four minutes into the second period.
The rest of the second period was filled with more turnovers and less-than-crisp play. The Wild were lucky to escape the game tied 1-1 after 40 minutes.
“The giveaways were not pretty,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “I think when your mind gets tired, then your body goes… We got away with it because Duby played so solid in goal.”
Luckily for the Wild, the fourth line came to the rescue to break the tie game with 9:09 left in regulation. From behind the net, Daniel Winnik fed the puck to Foligno in the circle. Foligno did a spin move with the puck before firing it into the net for his eighth tally of the season and a 2-1 Wild lead. Joel Eriksson Ek got the second assist.
“As a fourth line, you need to come up big… it was huge to break through and obviously get the game-winner,” Foligno said.
Devan Dubnyk also finally got victory No. 200 in his career. Apparently, he was just waiting to make it happen against his former team in the desert. Dubnyk improves to 31-14-5 this season and has 130 of his 200 victories in a Wild uniform.
“His movements were sort of nonexistent,” Boudreau said. “He was in control of his game.”
Eric Staal iced the win with an empty-net goal with 17.9 ticks left in regulation. It’s his 38th goal of the season. Coyle got the assist to extend his point streak to six games (3-4—7).
Dubnyk (31-14-5) with 30 saves on 31 shots. Antti Raanta (15-16-6) with 30 saves on 32 shots.
Shots on goal were pretty even in each period. The Wild outshot the Coyotes 33-31.
Dumba earned the primary assist on Niederreiter’s goal, his 29th of the season, in his 300th career game. Dumba had six shots on goal.
The Wild went 1-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The Wild are 5-7-1 in the second game of back-to-back series.
The Wild come back home for a three-game homestand, starting with a game Monday night against Los Angeles.
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