Goals by Zuccarello, Gaudreau help Wild top skidding Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Mats Zuccarello and Freddy Gaudreau scored 51 seconds apart in the second period, and the Minnesota Wild held off the reeling Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Saturday night.
Kirill Kaprizov nearly had a milestone goal and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for Minnesota, playing its lone home game in a seven-game stretch.
The Wild are 14-2-0 in their last 16 against the Coyotes.
“It’s good to get home in front of our fans. Obviously get two points. Even though they’re low in the standings, they’re still a good team,” said Fleury, 5-1-2 in his past eight starts.
Lawson Crouse scored and Connor Ingram stopped 25 shots for Arizona, which has lost eight straight games — all in regulation — while getting outscored 33-15. It is the most consecutive losses by the Coyotes since dropping nine in a row from Oct. 18 to Nov. 5, 2021.
“It’s hard to have A-plus games every night when you play every other night, traveling and so. I think what we can take from this game is that when you don’t play up to your standards and you get two points, that’s a good day,” Zuccarello said.
Kaprizov thought he gave Minnesota a 3-1 lead midway through the third period with a wrister from the left circle. However, video review showed Sam Steel was barely offside. The goal would have been the 100th of his career and come two years to the day after Kaprizov scored in overtime during his first NHL game to beat Los Angeles.
Instead, he’ll just have to celebrate a win.
“We’re all bummed when we lose a goal like that. I’m sure it’s going to come. You just have to be patient,” Zuccarello said.
“At that point in time if that’s a goal that’s a killer,” Ingram said. “I think that’s the reason the rule is there, if it’s close you play it out, you go back and make sure you get it right. It was a great challenge. It was close and it kept us in it and gave us another chance.”
Minnesota had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:17 midway through the second period, but Ingram made big saves on Matt Boldy, Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek before the Wild final beat the Arizona goaltender.
One-touch passes from Calen Addison and Kaprizov fed Zuccarello at the doorstep for an easy redirect at 9:39. It was Zuccarello’s seventh power-play goal of the season, tying a career high.
Addison’s 16 power-play points — all assists — are tops among NHL rookies.
“We’re fortunate to catch a break with 5-on-3. I haven’t even looked at the penalty, but yeah power play needed to come through here tonight because it was tight,” said Wild coach Dean Evason.
Less than a minute later, Ryan Hartman gathered a loose puck in the right circle and moved around a sliding defenseman and Ingram before sliding a pass across the blue paint to Gaudreau. The goal came two seconds after a power play expired.
Crouse pounced on a rebound 5:44 into the third period and beat Fleury with a slap shot from the left dot to get the Coyotes within one.
“We played a really good game against a really good team. They’re top-five in the league for shots against them in the slot and we had a lot tonight. We got rebounds, we got penetration, we defended well as well,” said coach André Tourigny.
The teams combined for just six penalty minutes. Arizona entered 28th in penalty minutes per game at 11.3; Minnesota was 31st at 12.6.
Coyotes: Play at Winnipeg on Sunday.
Wild: Begin a four-game trip Tuesday at Washington.
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