GLENDALE, ARIZ. – The turnaround from a magical show in Las Vegas to the next performance in Arizona was quick, less than 24 hours.
But in that brief amount of time, the Wild’s five-star effort in trapezing around one of the NHL’s juggernauts in the Golden Knights turned into a disappearing act against the league’s last-place team.
“It was definitely night and day from the very emotional game last night we had against Vegas,” winger Nino Niederreiter said.
And yet the team still managed to escape with two more points via a 3-1 win over the Coyotes Saturday in front of 13,735 at Gila River Arena courtesy the supporting role of the fourth line.
“You have to grind, and we did that,” winger Marcus Foligno said.
Tied at 1 in the third period, Foligno gobbled up a pass from winger Daniel Winnik and unleashed a shot on goalie Antti Raanta that flew in at 10 minutes, 51 seconds to finalize the team’s first win against the Coyotes in three tries (1-1-1).
“We knew on the back-to-back like this, especially against a team that has nothing to really lose, these can get away from you,” Foligno said. “So as a fourth line, you need to come up big in these. We knew our first three lines yesterday had a heavy load against Vegas, so it was huge to breakthrough and get the game winner."
The triumph also clinched goalie Devan Dubnyk’s 200th career win against the team that gave him a chance to settle in as a No.1 with the Wild, as Dubnyk was traded to the Wild in 2015 from the Coyotes after revitalizing his career with Arizona.
“I was just trying to get feeling good about a game after Tuesday [a 5-1 loss to the Avalanche],” said Dubnyk, who had 30 saves. “So just tried to focus on that. Obviously, the last few minutes you know it’s an important one and I just wanted to get it over with. It’s nice.”
It looked like the Wild might have parlayed some of the momentum it received on the Strip from a 4-2 win over the Golden Knights Friday into puck luck in another desert.
Just 7:35 into the first, Niederreiter capitalized on the power play when he was left alone in front of the Coyotes’ net to put back a Matt Dumba rebound that bounced off Raanta, who ended up with 30 saves. The Wild finished the game 1-for-5 with the man advantage; Arizona went 0-for-2.
But the Wild sabotaged any chance of growing that first-period lead through poor decision-making in the second when it was exposed amid a slew of odd-man rushes.
And the Coyotes made the Wild pay, as a two-on-nobody look matured into a breakaway for rookie Clayton Keller, who slipped the puck five-hole on Dubnyk 4:03.
Soon after, winger Richard Panik had another solo look on Dubnyk after the play started to develop into a 3-on-0 but Dubnyk was able to get a paw on the puck – a critical save that set up that game-changing shift by the fourth line and an eventual empty-netter by center Eric Staal with 18 seconds to go for his team-leading 38th goal and 70th point.
“Sometimes you just have to grind to get through those sloppy times in the game,” Dubnyk said. “I’ve played a lot of games with this team, and we’ve got an experienced group and you know someone’s going to come up with the play if you can keep the game tied.”