Coyotes 4, Wild 2
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—Curtis Joseph isn’t one to get caught up in personal statistics, but even he started peeking at the NHL’s career victory list as he approached one of the game’s best goaltenders.
“I looked at the list a little after 400,” Joseph said. “It’s nice to be mentioned in the same breath as Grant Fuhr.”
Joseph sparkled through two periods and was shaky in the third, but held on to tie Fuhr with his 403rd career victory. Fuhr, the former Edmonton star, is the Coyotes’ goalie coach.
“That’s like trying to compare Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan,” said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky, who teamed with Fuhr to win four Stanley Cups in the 1980s. “They’re both pretty special.”
The Coyotes took advantage of an unusually poor night from Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson, scoring three goals on their first six shots to take control.
Recently acquired Yanick Lehoux scored his first career goal just over a minute into the first period when his slap shot from the right circle went through Roloson’s legs on the first shot of the game.
“I don’t know what the record is for scoring the fastest goal on your first shift, but that’s got to be up there,” Gretzky said. “That’s a great way to start your NHL career.”
Mike Leclerc scored off a rebound 10 minutes later, and Comrie made it 3-0 when he scored on a beautiful pass across the crease from Mike Johnson with 6:30 to go in the period. Replays appeared to show that Comrie kicked the puck into the net, but the officials allowed the goal after a brief review.
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire replaced Roloson, who made just seven saves on the night, with Manny Fernandez to start the second period. It was the first time Roloson has been pulled from a game since a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Oct. 12, 2003.
“At that point he was just trying to get the guys going,” Roloson said.
The Wild defense tightened in front of Fernandez, and he saved seven of eight shots he faced to keep Minnesota in the game.
The Wild got on the board five minutes into the second when Daniel Tjarnqvist’s slap shot from the point beat Joseph high on his glove side. Fittingly, it was a power-play goal. The Wild entered the game an NHL-best 31 percent on the power play at home.
Later in the period, on another power play, Tjarnqvist tried to do the same thing. But Joseph was ready, and he made a brilliant glove save off the shot.
“He’s always been among the top goaltenders,” Lemaire said of Joseph. “In the past and even today, too.”
The Wild had a goal wiped off the board at the end of the second after Kyle Wanvig appeared to stuff the puck past Joseph. It was called a goal, but after a lengthy review, officials ruled the puck never crossed the goal line completely.
Joseph wasn’t nearly as impressive in the third period, when Filip Kuba’s clearing attempt on a Phoenix power play floated from behind Minnesota’s blue line and trickled between Joseph’s legs with 16 minutes to play.
“We deserved that one,” Wanvig said. “We hit three posts and missed two open nets. … It didn’t seem like it was meant to be tonight.”
Comrie put the game away when he beat Fernandez off a pass from Johnson with 2:35 to go.
“I think we gave them about six odd-man rushes and they scored four goals on them,” Lemaire lamented. “We played well, except for a few little mistakes.”
Glenn Hall and Martin Brodeur are tied for sixth with 407 victories. … Wild C Wes Walz left the game in the second period after taking a puck to the face but returned at the start of the third. … The Wild were 1-for-7 on the power play. … Phoenix’s Keith Ballard, a former University of Minnesota star, had two assists in his first regular-season game in his home state.