NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, November 18th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (11-9-0) at Minnesota Wild (7-11-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild carry a three-game losing streak into
tonight's matchup with Phoenix. Considering their recent success versus the
Coyotes, that skid isn't likely to reach four games.
The Wild play the first of a four-game homestand at Xcel Energy Center
Wednesday night versus a Coyotes club they have beaten 10 times in the last 11
meetings. That includes a nine-game series winning streak that ended with
Phoenix's 3-1 home win on December 11 of last season, though Minnesota notched
a 6-3 home victory in January to run its win streak as the host in the series
to seven games.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom has been a big part of Minnesota's success over
Phoenix, going 9-1-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average in 10 starts against
them. Backstrom, though, allowed four goals on 35 shots on Sunday versus
Carolina and was beaten by Jussi Jokinen in the shootout's second round in a
Robbie Earl, recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League on Friday,
posted his first two career scores for the Wild, who are 0-1-2 over their
slide but 5-2-0 as the host this season. John Scott also tallied his first NHL
goal and Antti Miettinen lit the lamp.
"I don't think when you're coming into the game, you're looking at getting
offense from certain individuals," said Wild head coach Todd Richards. "I
mean, obviously when they chip in that's a huge advantage. It kind of ignited
us, gave us a chance to get back in it."
With Petr Sykora still out due to a concussion, Chuck Kobasew and Benoit
Pouliot are both questionable for this game because of upper-body injuries.
The Coyotes play the first of back-to-back road games and are 5-4-0 as the
guest this year. They have dropped five of their last seven games, including
Monday's 4-1 setback to the Lightning.
Phoenix continues to play with a depleted blue line, as Kurt Sauer
(headaches), Zbynek Michalek (lower body) and Ed Jovanovski (lower body) all
remain out. Also, defender Jim Vandermeer received a game-misconduct penalty
for boarding on Monday, leaving Phoenix with just five defenseman for the
Adrian Aucoin lit the lamp for the Coyotes, who have dropped five of seven.
Jason LaBarbera made his first start since November 2 and gave up a goal on
his first shot faced. He ended with 15 saves in all.
"We had a lot of guys play with a lot of heart, but we couldn't score on our
chances," said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. "[Tampa Bay] capitalized, they
had big players capitalize on their chances. You can't fault our effort."
Ilya Bryzgalov should return to net tonight, but he is just 1-7-0 with a 3.42
GAA in his career versus the Wild.
Matthew Lombardi missed Monday's game with a lower-body injury, while Peter
Mueller suffered a lower-body ailment of his own in the contest. Both players
are questionable for tonight.
11/18 10:44:06 ET