ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When a team is on a roll, it takes contributions from up and down the roster to maintain a streak.
The Minnesota Wild benefited from a pair of unlikely players stepping up to play big roles in extending its winning streak to seven games. Backup goaltender Darcy Keumper made 27 saves and the Wild got goals from Ryan Suter, Tyler Graovac, Chris Stewart and Eric Staal to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Brendan Perlini's second goal of the season with 1:54 to go spoiled Kuemper's bid for his eighth career shutout and first of the season.
Kuemper, making his first start since a Nov. 29 loss at Vancouver, earned his first win in more than a month to raise his record to 3-2-1. He was making a spot start in place of Devan Dubnyk, who leads the league in goals against average and save percentage.
"It's never fun sitting back and watching but it's a little bit easier when the team's been playing like they have been," Kuemper said. "It was just nice to get out there and feel like I was contributing to a good thing we got goin' and it was a fun game in front of the home crowd and it was a big win."
With Wild third-line center Erik Haula lost early in the opening period to a lower body injury, fourth-liner Graovac was thrust into a more prominent role.
"I think I've tried to prove that I can do a little more than just play that fourth-line role," Graovac said. "I don't know how long Erik is going to be out for. Hopefully not long at all. If they need me to play special teams or something, I'll try my best and we'll see what happens."
The added responsibility paid off for Minnesota at 11:35 of the second period.
Graovac blocked Arizona defenseman Lawson Crouse's shot just inside the Minnesota blue line and was off to the races with Jason Zucker to his left. Graovac faked a shot from the right circle and, with Jakob Chychrun leaning on him, tried to slide the puck to Zucker.
But the puck rolled off Graovac's stick and banked off the right leg of a surprised Arizona goalie Mike Smith for his third of the season and a 2-0 Minnesota lead after two periods.
"You can see he's coming into his own here," Stewart said of Graovac. "He's getting more comfortable every day. (He) definitely feels he's part of the team now."
Graovac skated a career-high 18:45 and also established career bests in shots (5) and hits (3).
"I don't know how bad Erik is so I wanted to give Grao as much ice time as I could get him because he hasn't had a lot of ice time in recent games," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And I thought he came through pretty well."
The Wild kept the pressure on, forcing Smith to rob Nino Niederreiter on a 2-on-1 with Staal seconds after Graovac's goal.
Smith, who is 4-0-2 in a league-leading six games facing 40 or more shots, didn't see nearly that much rubber. However, what Minnesota lacked in quantity of shots, it more than made up in quality.
Smith was forced to stop several good scoring chances and was aided by the posts four times in a 26-save effort.
"We left Smitty out to make huge saves almost every shift," Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy said. "That was really frustrating how we didn't play hard enough to get a better effort."
A mostly quiet first period got busy in a hurry as the Wild capitalized on the second of back-to-back power plays to take a 1-0 lead on defenseman Suter's fifth goal of the season.
With Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the box for a second straight time after being out less than a minute, Suter's wrister from the left point squeezed its way through traffic past Smith at 16:40.
"We started the game well," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It was a tight game and Oliver (Ekman-Larsson) took two penalties, just off lost coverage on both of them, and they get a seeing-eye shot that goes through and we're chasing the game the rest of the way.
"Oliver had a really tough day. His game is not where it needs to be right now. He needs to find a way to have a bigger impact for our group to be successful."
While the Coyotes arrived in St. Paul with the NHL's best home penalty-killing unit at 93.3 percent, its road rate is ranked 29th at 71.2 percent. Minnesota eighth-ranked home power play (23.7 percent) took advantage, going 1-for-3 and pinning the Coyotes in their zone for long stretches.
Stewart's goal at 3:24 of the third period made it 3-0. Murphy coughed up the puck up to Stewart in the left circle who made a beeline for the crease and tucked the puck between Smith's pads.
Staal scored his 10th of the year into an empty net for the final margin. The Wild's leading scorer with 24 points (10-14--24) this season added an assist for his second straight multi-point game.
NOTES: Coyotes D Alex Goligoski, a native of Grand Rapids, Minn., scored 25 goals and 98 points in three seasons at the University of Minnesota before turning pro in 2007. ... Minnesota LW Teemu Pulkkinen, a healthy scratch since being recalled from Iowa (AHL) on Dec. 13, was in the lineup in place of RW Kurtis Gabriel, who sat out along with D Nate Prosser. ... The Coyotes scratched D Michael Stone, D Kevin Connauton and C Ryan White. ... Wild RW Charlie Coyle tallied a goal and an assist in his 300th NHL game, a 5-2 Minnesota win at Nashville. ... Fans were invited to remain in the arena after Saturday's game to watch the U.S. Women's National Team take on Canada on the giant scoreboard screen in the first of two December Series meetings. ... The Coyotes return to Arizona to begin a five-game homestand against Calgary on Monday, while Minnesota remains home to host Colorado on Tuesday.