(SportsNetwork.com) – The Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild will both be
aiming to avoid a third straight loss on Thursday night when the two clubs
clash at Xcel Energy Center.
The Coyotes split a four-game homestand to begin the season, losing the finale
by a 6-1 score to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. They then hit the road for
Tuesday’s meeting with Nashville and fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Predators.
Martin Erat’s power-play goal at 7:42 of the third period put Arizona in
front, but Nashville tied the game just 21 seconds later and won it on Ryan
Ellis’ fourth-round shootout tally.
Keith Yandle also scored on the power play, Rob Klinkhammer tallied at even
strength and Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves in his second start of the season.
“Our whole team competed,” said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. “We had
opportunities to get a win but unfortunately we didn’t.”
Tippett will go back to the struggling Mike Smith in net tonight. Smith is
1-2-0 with a 5.34 goals against average and .822 save percentage in three
starts this season, and 4-6-1 lifetime versus the Wild with a 2.13 GAA, .912
save percentage and two shutouts in 11 meetings with nine starts.
Arizona center Martin Hanzal did not play on Tuesday due to a lower-body
injury and will sit out tonight as well.
Though the Coyotes have lost four of their last five to the Wild overall, they
are 6-0-2 in their last eight trips to Minnesota.
The Wild look to reverse that trend tonight in just their second home game of
the season and fifth contest overall. They have been out of action since
wrapping a three-game swing with Sunday’s 2-1 setback to the Los Angeles
Making his first start since January, Niklas Backstrom made 14 saves on 16
shots faced, while Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick came up with 40 saves.
“We played well, but (Quick) just had one of those games again where he kind
of shut it down,” said Wild forward Zach Parise.
Matt Cooke recorded the lone goal for the Wild, who suffered their second
straight 2-1 loss after outscoring Colorado 8-0 over a pair of shutout wins to
begin the campaign. That included a 5-0 victory at home on Oct. 9 in the
Darcy Kuemper expects to start tonight for the Wild and has never before faced
the Coyotes, but comes in with a lifetime record of 9-3-2 at Xcel Energy
Center with a 1.80 GAA and .933 save percentage.
Wild center Charlie Coyle hits the ice tonight for the first time since inking
a five-year contract extension on Wednesday. The 22-year-old had 12 goals and
30 points in 70 games last season and has posted a pair of points over four
games this campaign.