NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 10th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (19-7-3) at Phoenix Coyotes (15-10-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - They're off to the best start in franchise history and just set the team mark for consecutive road wins, but the Minnesota Wild have no intentions of slowing down now.
The NHL's leader in points with 41, the Wild will resume a five-game road trip tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes in a battle of first-place clubs at Jobing.com Arena.
The Wild improved to 3-0 on the trek and recorded their franchise-best sixth straight win on the road with Thursday's 4-2 triumph over Los Angeles at Staples Center.
Darroll Powe finished with a goal and an assist, Mikko Koivu, Marco Scandella and Cody Almond all scored and Matt Hackett came up with 42 saves in his first NHL start for the Northwest Division-leading Wild, who are 9-3-2 on the road and six points ahead of Vancouver for division supremacy. Minnesota has won six straight overall and 11 of its 13 games.
"It was an easy night seeing the puck, and the boys are doing great clearing shots," Hackett said. "I don't care about stats, it's about the wins. I focus on what I am supposed to do and it worked out pretty well tonight."
Hackett, the nephew of former NHL netminder Jeff Hackett, replaced an injured Josh Harding during a 2-1 win at San Jose on Tuesday and was excited to help his team to victory two nights later.
"I can't explain it. It's been crazy," Hackett told the team's website. "It's the best 72 hours of my life so far. I'm just living the dream right now, and I just want to keep it going."
The Wild hope to keep it going tonight in the desert and will close out the road swing Tuesday at Winnipeg. Koivu has recorded a point in 10 of his previous 11 games for Minnesota, which has started 4-0 in December for the first time and last won seven in a row during a team-best nine-game run from March 8-24, 2007.
Forward Cal Clutterbuck (leg) missed Thursday's game and is day-to-day.
Phoenix had a two-game winning streak stopped with Thursday's 5-2 loss at Detroit in the finale of a three-game road trip (2-1-0).
Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal had a goal apiece for the Coyotes, who have lost three of their last five games, but still lead the Pacific Division by two points over both San Jose and Dallas.
"We have way too many guys that have to find a way to be better," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "Every team gets a little road weary at times, we've been pretty good, but tonight just wasn't our night."
Mike Smith was rattled for four goals on 11 shots before being pulled in favor of Jason LaBarbera, who made 20 saves on 21 shots in relief. Phoenix will play three of its next four games at home and is 6-5-2 as the host this season.
Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival was activated from injured reserve and played Thursday against Detroit.
Minnesota and Phoenix are playing the first of four meetings this season tonight. The Coyotes went 2-1-1 against the Wild in 2010-11 and have won seven of the last 10 meetings between the teams.
12/10 10:56:24 ET