Wild shut out visiting Flyers
By Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
Minnesota 2 Philadelphia 0
St. Paul, MN -- The Minnesota Wild were frustrated by an opposing goalie for 40 minutes on Monday. Luckily for them, the Wild's goalie frustrated the Philadelphia Flyers for 60 minutes.
After two scoreless periods, the Wild finally broke through via third-period goals by right winger Jason Pominville and center Charlie Coyle, snapping a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Flyers.
Pominville, who leads the Wild with 13 goals, and Coyle scored less than a minute apart, and goalie Josh Harding added 21 saves in his third shutout of the season for Minnesota (16-8-5), which was on a 0-3-1 streak in the final week of November. Harding, who began the season as the backup to Niklas Backstrom after missing much of last season while dealing with multiple sclerosis, is now 14-4-3, with career highs in wins and shutouts for a season.
"We've got a long season here left, and obviously we've been challenged early in the year with (Backstrom) as far as him being hurt. Very few games has he been healthy for us, and Josh has really allowed us to be where we're at right now," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "If it wasn't for him, we'd be in a lot of trouble. He's played some great hockey, and I think all his teammates recognize that."
Flyers goalie Ray Emery, playing in his ninth game this season, kept the Wild off the board for the first two periods and finished with 19 saves, but Philadelphia (12-13-2) suffered just its third regulation loss in the past dozen games.
"A couple posts and a couple shots where their goalie made a nice save. Obviously, we got to generate more offense," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "They're a pretty good team. They have a lot of composure with the puck. It was a good test for us to play this team. I think we played a good game defensively and I think their goalie did a good job of shutting the door a little bit."
Minnesota dominated the play in a scoreless first two periods, out-shooting the Flyers 15-10 and getting the game's first two power plays. But the Flyers defense was impenetrable for those two-thirds of the game, holding Minnesota off the board and running their penalty-kill streak to 14 in a row.
The Wild finally broke through when Pominville fought off a check and slapped home a pass from center Mikko Koivu. Just 57 seconds later, Emery stopped a long-range shot by defenseman Jared Spurgeon, but Coyle pounced on the rebound and scored his third goal of the season.
"It's always nice to get rewarded offensively," said Coyle, who has been promoted to the Wild's top line with Koivu and left wing Zach Parise. "I think it's been kind of weird where our line, when we're put together, we've done a lot of good things but have had a tough time putting them in the net. So, I figured it was only a matter of time before we were able to put some away, but it's definitely nice to get on the board for sure."
Flyers coach Craig Berube lifted Emery in favor of a sixth attacker with more than three minutes to play, but could not get a goal.
"Tight game. You're not gonna get a lot of chances against them. I felt that it was a perfect time, we had the faceoff down there, our top guys were rested," said Berube, explaining his logic. "Just a gut to try and get one right away. I thought if we could get one right there we had some time."
In terms of offense, both teams were short-handed even before the national anthem began. Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier, who leads Philadelphia with nine goals, was scratched for the fifth time this season due to back spasms. Minnesota was playing without center Mikael Granlund, who has missed four of the Wild's last five games with an upper-body injury.
NOTES: Monday's game was the Flyers' sixth visit to Xcel Energy Center since the Wild entered the league in 2000. But their road game versus the Wild was a memorable one. On Oct. 11, 2000, the teams skated to a 3-3 tie in the Wild's first-ever regular-season home game. ... Wild enforcer Zenon Konopka returned to the lineup on Monday. He had missed the Wild's 3-2 shootout loss in Colorado on Saturday night after getting hit in the left eye with a puck on Friday. To make room for him, Minnesota sent W Jason Zucker back down to their Iowa AHL club. Zucker has played six games with the Wild and has yet to record a point. ... Philadelphia RW Matt Read had a notable cheering section on hand for his first pro game back in Minnesota. Read was a college star at Bemidji State in northern Minnesota, and helped the Beavers reach the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four. ... The Flyers, in the midst of a six-game road trip, have Tuesday off before visiting the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. Minnesota has a two-day break before hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.