Coyotes skate past Wild with late goal for 3-2 win

Published 8:25 am Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Phoenix Coyotes found a quick and effective way to quiet a hostile crowd Wednesday night.

Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves in the Coyotes’ 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

But it was Scotty Upshall who ruined the home fans’ fun.

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The Wild’s Antti Miettinen tied it at 2 with 4:58 to play, but Phoenix countered 19 seconds later, with Upshall blasting in the rebound of Keith Yandle’s shot, suddenly quieting the sellout crowd.

“That’s a big one, especially when the building is sitting there waiting for something to happen,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “They get some life and we can take it away from them in a hurry. That’s not a bad scenario you want to follow.”

James Vandermeer also scored for Phoenix.

Andrew Brunette added a goal for the Wild, 0-2-2 in their last four games. Minnesota was outshot for long stretches of the game and repeatedly frustrated by Bryzgalov.

“This is probably our poorest, I think, performance of the year,” Wild coach Todd Richards said. “We had spurts in the third period. First period they pretty much controlled and dictated everything going on in the first period, and I would say a good portion of the second.”

The teams emerged from the first period scoreless, despite the Coyotes repeatedly pouncing on Wild giveaways and outshooting Minnesota 15-5.

The Coyotes scored on their 16th shot when Vrbata’s wrister eluded a crowd in front of Minnesota’s Nicklas Backstrom and sailed over the line before the goalie could get a look at the puck. It was Vrbata’s sixth goal of the season.

The goal early in the second period came on a controversial Phoenix power play. In the final seconds of the opening period, Minnesota’s Owen Nolan was whistled for slashing Sami Lepisto of the Coyotes. Replays showed Nolan raised his stick, but did not make contact with Lepisto, just as the Phoenix player’s stick snapped. Fans serenaded the officials with boos when replays of the call were shown, and when Vrbata scored on the ensuing man-advantage.