ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Someone has to score first and for the first time in eight games the Minnesota Wild beat their opponent to the punch.
Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored goals 57 seconds apart early in the third period to break open a defensive standoff and lift the Wild to a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
“We had been giving up the first goal so many times lately,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “I figure if we’re not going to score it, don’t let them.”
Josh Harding made 21 saves for this third shutout of the season.
“Better start,” Yeo said. “And again, that’s something we’ve talked about.”
In their previous seven games, the Wild had immediately fallen behind and were outscored 15-4 in the first two periods. They were 2-4-1 in those games.
Although it took a while for the Wild to get anything going offensively, they effectively kept the Flyers locked down. Playing without leading goal scorer Vincent Lecavalier (back spasms), Philadelphia had only six shots on goal and no real scoring chances in the first 33 minutes.
Minnesota didn’t really, either, until Pominville collected Mikko Koivu’s pass in the crease and flipped it past Ray Emery 3:52 into the third period. Koivu was skating around the back of the net when he spun and passed behind his defender.
“I didn’t know if it was Poms or Zach (Parise), but once I saw someone was there, I tried to get it on tape and I did,” Koivu said. “Obviously he made a good shot, getting it up high. It was pretty tight for him. Good shot.”
On the ensuing shift, Coyle tapped a rebound off Jared Spurgeon’s slap shot into an empty corner at 4:11 to make it 2-0.
“It took a while, but we know if we stick to our system, we’re going to break them down, and that’s what happened,” Coyle said.
It was an impressive and unexpected flurry in a game that had played out as the statistics predicted. When the puck dropped, the Wild’s 17 even-strength goals allowed in 21 games led the NHL; and the Flyers had allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of their past 14 games.
Plus, Minnesota had scored only six goals in its five previous games (1-3-1). But the Wild controlled most of the action, even if their chances were minimal, to improve to 11-3-2 at home.
Kings 3, Blues 2
In Los Angeles, rookie Tyler Toffoli scored two goals, Jarret Stoll also tallied and Ben Scrivens made 25 saves for the Kings in a victory over St. Louis.
Scrivens, who has performed brilliantly in place of the injured Jonathan Quick, was heading toward his fourth shutout of the season when Kevin Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the final 5:54. Scrivens has given up fewer than three goals in each of his last 10 starts and has posted two shutouts since Quick went on injured reserve with a Grade Two groin strain on Nov. 12 at Buffalo.
Los Angeles has allowed fewer than three goals in a franchise-record 13 consecutive games. The streak includes a pair of 3-2 shootout losses to Buffalo and San Jose.
Jets 5, Rangers 2
In New York, Olli Jokinen broke a tie with 7:18 left in the third period and then netted an insurance goal moments later to lead Winnipeg to the win.
Jokinen, a former Rangers player who also assisted on Devin Setoguchi’s tying goal in the second period, gathered the puck after a strange carom off the end boards. He then fired a shot past rookie Cam Talbot, who got a surprise second straight start over No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Canadiens 3, Devils 2
In Montreal, Alex Galchenyuk scored midway through the third period to lead the Habs to victory.
Rene Bourque and Max Pacioretty also scored for Montreal (16-9-3)..
New Jersey’s Steve Bernier and Michael Ryder scored. Martin Brodeur stopped 14 shots for the Devils (11-12-5).