Slumping Coyotes host Wild

( – The holiday shopping season is in full swing, but the
Arizona Coyotes haven’t been able to buy a home victory in over a month.

The Coyotes will try to prevent what is now a franchise-record losing streak
at home from getting any longer on Saturday night as they take on the
Minnesota Wild.

Arizona set a new mark in home futility with Thursday’s 5-1 setback to the
Nashville Predators. That loss dropped the Coyotes to 0-6-2 in their past
eight games at Gila River Arena, a franchise record that includes the club’s
time as the original Winnipeg Jets.

The Coyotes’ Antoine Vermette scored the game’s first goal, but netminder Mike
Smith allowed five goals on 38 shots.

Arizona has been outscored 19-5 over a season-high four-game slide and is
2-7-2 in its past 11.

“It’s important for us to stick to our game regardless of what’s going on and
continue to push forward,” said Coyotes forward Sam Gagner.

Arizona, which has not won at home since Nov. 4, has now lost the first three
of a five-game residency that ends on Tuesday versus Edmonton and will look to
rebound from a loss that head coach Dave Tippett labeled as both frustrating
and disappointing.

“I think there’s a lot of guys in (the dressing room who) care and want to do
better,” added Tippett. “We’re not finding the results we want, so the
frustration continues to build. But until we turn that frustration into mental
resolve and getting the job done, more frustration will pile up.”

More frustration could be on tap tonight given that the Coyotes have lost
three straight to the Wild, including a 2-0 setback in Minnesota on Oct. 23 in
the first of three meetings this season.

Smith made 27 saves, but the Wild got a 26-save effort from Darcy Kuemper in
the shutout.

Minnesota also has won its past three in Arizona and will try to bounce back
from Thursdays’ 2-1 setback to the San Jose Sharks. The Wild were hoping to
win consecutive games for the first time since a four-game run from Nov. 13-20
but instead have split their last 10 games overall.

Kuemper made 28 saves versus the Sharks and defenseman Christian Folin netted
his first NHL goal in his 12th career game. But San Jose struck back not long
after that tally to keep control.

“We put ourselves in a winnable hockey game,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo said.
“In the end, we just didn’t do quite enough.”

Wild defenseman Marco Scandella served the first of his two-game suspension
for an illegal check to the head on the New York Islanders’ Brock Nelson in
the third period on Tuesday. Minnesota lost defenseman Keith Ballard
indefinitely in the same game after he suffered facial fractures and a
concussion on a scary hit along the mid-ice boards.