NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 13th (All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (21-17-5) at Minnesota Wild (20-18-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild couldn't have picked a better opponent to start out their three-game homestand against. The Wild will try for their seventh straight win over the Phoenix Coyotes as the host when the two clubs meet tonight at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild return home having lost two straight and five of their last eight. They won the first two contests of four-game road trip, with goaltender Niklas Backstrom getting a shutout in each victory, before dropping tests in Philadelphia and Columbus.
Backstrom had a personal three-start winning streak halted with the setback to the Flyers, and the Wild opted to rest their starter in Columbus on Saturday. Josh Harding instead got the call and he was tagged for four goals on 32 shots faced in a 4-2 loss. Antti Miettinen and Marek Zidlicky each had a goal and an assist in defeat.
Backstrom should get the call tonight, as he had won eight games in eight starts versus the Coyotes before taking a loss against them on December 11. He also has three shutouts and a 1.34 goals against average in his nine lifetime starts versus Phoenix.
Minnesota, tied with Edmonton for last in the Northwest Division with 43 points, is 11-7-3 as the host this season and will also battled the Oilers and Anaheim Ducks on this stand.
But first, Minnesota will aim to extend its six-game home winning streak over Phoenix. The Wild haven't lost to the Coyotes at home since November 8, 2005 and have won 11 of the last 13 overall in the series. Minnesota had won nine straight over Phoenix before the Coyotes posted a 3-1 home win on December 11. Tonight marks the final meeting this season between the clubs.
The Coyotes enter this contest coming off a hard-fought 1-0 shootout win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Kyle Turris got the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout to give Phoenix the two points.
After Ilya Bryzgalov stopped Mike Modano to begin the round, Turris skated in, and after pulling Marty Turco to the left post on the backhand, slipped the puck inside the left post and below the crossbar for the deciding score.
Bryzgalov ended with 38 saves for the Coyotes, who have won two in a row and four of six. It was his second shutout of the season and second in his last eight starts.
Bryzgalov, though, had lost his first six decisions against the Wild in his career before notching the win on December 11 with a 30-save effort. He still has just a 3.06 GAA against them.
Phoenix trails second-place Anaheim by two points in the Pacific Division and will head west following this test to visit Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. The Coyotes are 6-11-3 on the road this year, having lost four of five and six of their last eight away from the desert.
01/13 10:52:27 ET