MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Coyotes woke up Friday morning one point behind Los Angeles and San Jose in the division. They beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Friday night then took care of the Wild on Saturday night to close out an historic season for the franchise.
Phoenix is the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and will face Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. The Coyotes won three of the four meetings against the Blackhawks this season, with one coming in a shootout.
Smith has been stellar for most of the season for the Coyotes, but he went through a rough patch in the middle of March when he allowed 22 goals over a seven-start stretch. He has since steadied himself in a major way, recording three straight shutouts before allowing just one goal in each of the last two games of the season as he heads to the playoffs.
He wasn’t tested often by the anemic Wild offense on Saturday, but made two brilliant stops — on Jason Zucker and Devin Setoguchi — on a power play toward the end of the second period to keep the Coyotes in control.
The Coyotes got out quickly, jumping on the board 5:34 into the game when Wild defenseman Kris Fredheim made a lazy back-handed clearing attempt behind the net that landed right on Boedker’s stick inside the right circle. Boedker pounced and easily beat Backstrom over the left shoulder for a 1-0 lead.
Phoenix made it 2-0 at 13:57 when Pyatt corralled a loose puck in the slot with his backhand, made a nifty move to get the puck on his forehand and fired a wrist shot past Backstrom.
The Wild got off to a lethargic start, with just five shots on goal in the first 33 minutes. But they picked up the pace later in the second period, getting on the board when Heatley banked the puck off Smith’s leg and into the net to make it 2-1.
But before the Wild fans had settled back into their seats, Pyatt was back at it, scoring on a rebound over a sprawling Backstrom 31 seconds later.
Vrbata scored his 35th goal of the season on a slap shot through Backstrom’s wickets from a shallow angle just over a minute into the final period to put the game on ice.
NOTES: Fredheim and D Chay Genoway were called up from AHL Houston for the finale to help a depleted defense that was missing Nate Prosser, who was suspended for the game after he head-butted Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers on Thursday. … It’s the first time Boedker has scored goals in back-to-back games since March 24 and 26 last season. … Pyatt scored his first goals since Feb. 9, snapping a 17-game goal-less streak.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)