NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, November 13th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (8-6-0) at Minnesota Wild (8-4-1), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom hasn't lost at home
much as of late. He has never lost to the Phoenix. Backstrom will try for his
eighth win in as many starts versus the Coyotes tonight, as the two teams meet
at the Wild's Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild have posted points in 12 straight home games with Backstrom in net,
including a 3-0-1 mark in his four starts at Xcel Energy Center this season.
Minnesota hasn't left the ice at home with Backstrom in net and without a
point since a 4-2 loss versus Chicago on March 4 of last season.
The 30-year-old goaltender is 8-3-1 with a 2.19 goals against average and .931
save percentage this year, and has been even better versus the Coyotes. In
seven career matchups against them, Backstrom is 7-0-0 with a 1.29 GAA and has
allowed just nine goals in that span.
That includes a road win this year on November 1, when Backstrom made 25 saves
in a 3-2 victory. That triumph was Minnesota's eighth in a row versus the
Coyotes, who have also dropped five straight in Minnesota.
Backstrom did all he could to give the Wild a win in their last time out on
the ice, stopping 27 shots in a 2-0 loss to Vancouver. It was Minnesota's
fourth loss in the last six games after starting the season 5-0-1.
The lack of offense is to blame, as the Wild haven't lost by more than two
goals in any of their last four setbacks and lead the league in fewest goals
allowed (28). The club is also ranked third in goals against per game at 2.14.
With high-scoring forward Marian Gaborik having not played since October 14 --
Minnesota's second game of the season -- the Wild's offense might get a boost
from the blue line with the return of defenseman Brent Burns, who has missed
four straight with an upper body ailment but is probable for this game.
Minnesota is 3-1-1 as the host and plays the first of back-to-back home games
Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov hasn't had much success when facing the Wild. The 28-
year-old is 0-5-0 with a 3.28 GAA in six career outings versus Minnesota, and
he allowed three goals on 33 shots faced in that first meeting this year.
Bryzgalov was in net for last night's 5-2 win over Columbus, a victory in
which Shane Doan scored twice and added an assist to bring his point total to
a team-high tying 16 (9 goals, 7 assists). First-year Coyote Olli Jokinen also
has 16 points (7g, 9a) this season.
Steven Reinprecht, Kevin Porter and Martin Hanzal also scored for the Coyotes,
who won their season-high third straight game. Keith Yandle had two assists to
help Phoenix improve to 3-4-0 on the road this season.
Should Phoenix decide not to start Bryzgalov on back-to-back nights, it would
be Mikael Tellqvist in net. He lost his only career start versus Minnesota,
allowing four goals in the setback.
The Coyotes will try to win four games in a row for the first time since a
five-game winning run from December 31-January 8 of last season as well as
capture their first win over the Wild since November 14, 2006.
11/13 10:39:56 ET