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Phoenix kills off three third-period penalties

3/7/2004

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Brent Johnson's Phoenix debut wasn't all
he hoped for, but it was just enough for the Coyotes.

Johnson, acquired Friday from St. Louis, made 30 saves as the
Coyotes tied the Minnesota Wild 1-1 Sunday night.

"I told myself before the game to play with a lot of
competitiveness, but also to have some fun," Johnson said.

Ivan Novoseltsev scored for the Coyotes, 0-4-2-2 in their last
eight games. Phoenix is 2-12-2-3 since consecutive wins against San
Jose and Detroit in late January.

"We're teetering. We're close, but what's going to push us is
that mental toughness," said interim coach Rick Bowness, who is
0-3-1-2 since taking over for Bobby Francis on Feb. 24. "Our
defense is good for the most part, but why not for 60 minutes?
That's mental toughness."

Dwayne Roloson made 25 saves and Andrew Brunette scored his
team-leading 13th goal for the Wild, 0-4-3 in their last seven
games. The Wild are 0-2-19 in overtime this season, five ties short
of Philadelphia's 34-year-old league record.

"It looks like we love them," said Minnesota coach Jacques
Lemaire. "I'd love to win one. We're getting close, but we don't
win any,"

Johnson kept the game even as Phoenix killed three third-period
penalties, including Mike Rupp's double-minor for high-sticking, as
well as an abbreviated 31.9-second power play in overtime.

"We started a little slow, there's no doubt," Lemaire said.
"But we picked it up in the second and third periods."

Novoseltsev gave Phoenix an early 1-0 lead. Novoseltsev, playing
in his second game after missing 19 with a concussion, took a pass
from Chris Gratton behind the Minnesota defense and stumbled before
gaining control just outside the blue line.

After taking two strides to regain his balance, Novoseltsev
skated untouched on Roloson and scored his second goal at 4:42 of
the first period.

"I was kind of surprised," Novoseltsev said. "It was a good
pass and the defense made a mistake."

Minnesota tied the game late in the period when Brunette took a
shot that deflected off defenseman Radoslav Suchy's skate and past
Johnson.

"I was following it across, but once I realized it didn't make
it across it was between my legs," Johnson said.

Phoenix's Fredrik Sjostrom had a chance for a second Coyotes
goal, but his long wrist shot bounced off the crossbar and the back
of Roloson's right leg before skidding harmlessly away.

"We needed anything positive we could get and I think we played
a pretty good game," Brunette said.<

Notes: Novoseltsev's other goal came Oct. 24 against Minnesota
as a member of the Florida Panthers. ... Minnesota, which tied Los
Angeles 1-1 on Thursday, is 9-5-4 in games following ties. ...
Rupp, acquired by Phoenix from New Jersey on Friday, was also
making his Coyotes debut. ... The Wild are 1-10-5-0 against the
Pacific Division, with the lone win coming Dec. 15 at Phoenix.<