Arizona Coyotes Give Away First of 3-Game Set to Minnesota Wild, 4 to 0

Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports /

Arizona Coyotes penalties and failure to convert on scoring chances on Friday night resulted in a 4 to 0 shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild.

It was Adin Hill vs. Cam Talbot in goal for Game 1 of the Arizona Coyotes (12-11-4) three-game series with the third-place Minnesota Wild (16-8-1), and it was Talbot that won the battle.

Although the Coyotes had the run of the play early on and spent considerable time in their offensive end (outshooting the Wild 9 to 8 in the first period), they couldn’t score. The first period ended in a scoreless tie, although both goalkeepers were kept busy making quality saves as the teams skated up and down the ice.

The second period had more north and south play from both teams, but each goalkeeper was up to the task of defending their nets. The Wild became the more aggressive of the two teams and added more pressure to the Yotes “D” men.

Unfortunately, the Coyotes became less focused and committed three penalties in quick succession (Goligoski, Kessel, and Brassard). Even though the Wild failed to score on those ensuing power plays, the Yotes had many of their most effective offensive players on the bench, unable to do anything while the penalty killing unit was on the ice. As a result, there wasn’t much continuity to their offensive game.

“Rookie” sensation Kirill Kaprizov was the difference maker for the Wild, as he scored his first NHL hat trick in the third period. He scored his first at 5:47, gaining possession of the puck in the left circle, spinning to his right, and rifling a shot past Adin Hill. He scored his second at 8:10 with an almost identical move. The stats showed the Wild had taken 27 shots to the Coyotes’ 17 at the time.

Phil Kessel had 2 or 3 partial breakaways in the game with only Goalkeeper Cam Talbot to beat, but he could not light the lamp on any of them – not a good result for a man whose NHL reputation is based upon being a sharp shooter.

At 17:21 of the third period, Rick Tocchet pulled Adin Hill, and Jonas Brodin ultimately scored an empty net goal in response. Hill was sent back out, and Kirill Kaprizov scored his third goal with only 48 seconds left in the game.

As usual, a typical Coyotes game comes with a mixed bag of results. Consistency is always a factor, penalties ultimately come into play, and poor (inaccurate) shooting is the frustrating norm. On Friday night, there were spurts of impressive, unified play by the Desert Dogs, but it didn’t last. Granted, penalties disrupt even the best laid plans, but a fan might expect much more stable play during even-strength 5 v 5 competition.

As the Coyotes approach Sunday’s matinee performance, they need to determine what they can do better to weather the Wild storm when it returns. If you don’t score, you don’t win, and committing too many penalties is like poking the Wild’s bear.

The season could be slipping away, as the Coyotes are in sixth place (28 pts), only 5 points ahead of the San Jose Sharks. Let’s go Coyotes!