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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Sarah McLellan

Wild stumble in return from break, lose 3-2 to Arizona at college rink

TEMPE, Ariz. — The rink wasn't conventional, and neither was the result.

In the relaunch of their season after an eight-day hiatus, the Wild were upset 3-2 by the Coyotes on Monday at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena that the Coyotes are sharing with Arizona State hockey.

This was the Wild's first loss this season against their Central Division rival after starting 2-0, while Arizona picked up only its third victory in its last 17 games vs. the Wild.

Overall, the Wild have dropped four of their past six games.

Jack McBain delivered the go-ahead goal with 6 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third period, capitalizing on a breakaway to cap off the Coyotes' comeback that was assisted by a pair of tiebreakers from Jakob Chychrun.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who was making his 971st career appearance to tie Terry Sawchuk for the fourth-most goals in NHL history for a goaltender, racked up 33 saves while making his fourth consecutive start for the Wild. At the other end, Arizona's Karel Vejmelka made 34 stops.

Both sides were playing their first game since the All-Star break, and they were welcomed back with a raucous atmosphere that included dueling chants from the crowd that was dotted with Wild jerseys. This was the Wild's first trip to the newly-built Mullett Arena on ASU's Tempe campus, which is the Coyotes' temporary home while they aim to build their own facility nearby in Tempe after spending nearly 20 years on the other side of Phoenix in the suburb of Glendale before the city decided not to renew its lease with the team.

Each faction of fans was given a reason to cheer in the second.

The Wild's top line finished off a marathon, two-plus minute shift with a goal, a one-timer by Kirill Kaprizov at 3:39 set up by Mats Zuccarello after Zuccarello forced a neutral-zone turnover seconds earlier to help the Wild regain the puck and the offensive zone.

Kaprizov's 28th goal extended his overall point streak to six games and point streak against Arizona to 12 games; that ties him with Zach Parise (vs. Detroit) and Mikael Granlund (vs. Dallas) for the longest point streak by a Wild skater against a single opponent. During his six-game point streak, Kaprizov has three goals and five assists.

But the Wild's momentum was short-lived.

After a flurry of posts by the Coyotes, they eventually converted at 9:26 on a blistering shot by Chychrun during an Arizona power play; the Coyotes finished 1-for-6, while the Wild went 0-for-3.

That 1-1 stalemate held until the third period during another shift that punished Arizona for a turnover.

This time, Joel Eriksson Ek was the one to apply the pressure that won possession back for the Wild and after his rebound skirted along the boards, Jonas Brodin pinched and sent the puck back on net where it eluded Vejmelka at 1:40. The goal was Brodin's second of the season, while Eriksson Ek's assist was his eighth point in his past seven games; his helper was also the 99th of his NHL career.

Cue Chychrun.

He buried his second equalizer of the night at 9:35, another wrist shot that blew by Fleury.

Then only 3:37 later, McBain skated into Wild territory and flipped in a backhander over Fleury.

McBain was drafted by the Wild in the third round, 63rd overall, in 2018 before telling the Wild he didn't want to sign with them. Before he was set to become a free agent, the Wild dealt his rights to the Coyotes last March for a second-round pick.

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