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Heatley, Wild wake up with 4-3 win over Coyotes

The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dany Heatley broke out of a monthlong scoring slump Thursday, and he brought the Minnesota Wild along with him.

Heatley scored two goals to help the Wild to just their third four-goal game of the season, a 4-3 victory over Phoenix. It was his second two-goal game of the season, and the Wild have won both.

"Whenever I score, I think everybody thinks it's a good game. And when I don't, it's not a good game," Heatley said.

"For me it's more about chances. I think sometimes you go through droughts, whether it's myself or the whole team. As long as you are getting chances and creating stuff at the net, it is going to go in the net."

Heatley, who had scored one goal since Jan. 27, gave the Wild a 2-0 lead late in the first period when he skated in alone from the left side and beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. He then put a one-timer past Smith just seconds after a Coyotes power play ended at 6:03 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.

An 11-year veteran, Heatley scored two goals in a 4-2 victory over Colorado in the season opener Jan. 19 and had four goals in the first five games before hitting a scoring drought. His only goal since had come Feb. 17 against Detroit.

"He's had chances; he's had lots of chances," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "Sometimes they go in, and sometimes they don't. You just have to make sure you continue to play the right way, and he has."

Jason Zucker also scored in the first period as the Wild took a 2-0 lead, and Jared Spurgeon countered a goal by Coyotes defenseman Rostislov Klesla with a power-play goal for a 4-1 lead with four minutes left in the second period.

Phoenix scored twice in the final 4:39, when Keith Yandle's dump-in pass from the blue line ricocheted off the boards and bounced past Niklas Backstrom to make it 4-2. A minute after the Coyotes pulled their goalie, Shane Doan's goal made it 4-3. But the Wild held on.

"We understand the situation. It is going to be a grind," Heatley said. "It's going to be a one-goal game, no matter what. We had a three-goal lead and still made it a one-goal game. It seems like the goalie is pulled every night."

The Wild (10-7-2) are 6-2-1 in their last nine games.

Backstrom stopped 25 shots and is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts, having given up 12 goals.

"It's a good game for us. It's fun to see guys scoring who have been working really hard -- getting the bounces and getting paid for that hard work," Backstrom said.

Phoenix (9-8-3) dropped one point behind the Wild in the Western Conference standings.

Doan's goal was his 100th at Jobing.com Arena and his fifth of the season, as the Coyotes struggle to find consistent play out of their forward lines. Their two other goals were by defensemen, one Yandle's flukey score.

Phoenix's fourth line of Kyle Chipchura, Paul Bissonnette and Nick Johnson has been the most effective the last several games.

"Chip's been great for us. We need to rely on everyone, but we need to follow their example a little bit," Doan said.

Asked about his first three lines, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was terse:

"Not enough doing with the puck and doing without the puck. I think our group was a little tired tonight. You could see there wasn't the same zip in it. With that being said, you still manufacture a win."

Smith limited the Wild to one goal in the Coyotes' 2-1 victory in the first meeting of the series Feb. 4, but the Wild equaled that 95 seconds into the game when Zucker tipped in a centering pass from Matt Cullen. Zucker has three goals in five games since being recalled Feb. 16 from Houston, where he led the Aeros with 41 points and 19 goals in 47 games.

"We've been emphasizing our starts and trying to play with a lead," Zucker said.

Klesla broke Backstrom's shutout 10:58 into the second period, skating in on the right side and beating Backstrom with a backhander to the stick side. Klesla had three goals in the regular season and two more in the playoffs last year, when the Coyotes made the Western Conference finals.

Jason LaBarbera replaced Smith in the third period.

NOTES: Daytona 500 winner Jimmy Johnson dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. Johnson, a five-time NASCAR season series champion, will drive in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. ... The Coyotes were without center Maritin Hanzal and right wing Radim Vrbata, who combined for the final goal in a 2-1 victory over Minnesota the last time the teams met here Feb. 4. Vrbata (lower body injury) has missed the last four games while Hanzal (upper body injury) has missed the last five. ... The Coyotes began a stretch of six of seven games at home Thursday after playing six of their previous eight on the road. Phoenix opens the NHL's version of a three-game series against Anaheim this weekend, playing home games against the Ducks on Saturday and Monday before playing in Anaheim on Wednesday. ... Minnesota wing Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) was placed on the injured reserve list after being kneed by Edmonton's Tyler Hall a week ago. Hall was given a two-game suspension. ... Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 275th consecutive game Thursday, second in the league among defensemen behind Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester (607 games).
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