By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will return to home ice tonight when they play the red-hot Minnesota Wild at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
The game will be the first of four between the teams this season and the first of two in Glendale where the Coyotes have beaten the Wild four of the past five times they've played.
The Coyotes (15-10-3) will enter the game in first place in the Pacific Division standings two points ahead of Dallas and San Jose.
, who struggled in a 5-2 loss at Detroit on Thursday night, will be back in goal for the Coyotes as they play the second of just six December home games.
Phoenix is being led offensively by forward Radim Vrbata
, who has scored 14 goals in the first 28 games. Last season, Vrbata scored 19 goals in 78 games.
Winger Ray Whitney
and defenseman Keith Yandle
are tied for the team lead with 15 assists apiece.
Center Kyle Turris
will be looking to notch his first point since re-signing with the team on Nov. 22. Turris played a season-high 17:31 vs. the Red Wings on Thursday, but he did not register a shot on goal. He has taken six shots on goal this season, but only two in the past four games.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Wild (19-7-3) have surprised the hockey world under rookie Head Coach Mike Yeo and are leading the NHL with 41 points.
On Thursday, Minnesota won its franchise record sixth road game in a row at Los Angeles – and they did it in rookie goalie Matt Hackett's first career start. Hackett made 42 saves in place of Niklas Backstrom, who is nursing an injury.
The Wild, who have won six games in a row overall, have not been dazzling opponents, they’ve simply been beating them. As far as players to watch – take your pick. The Wild play a solid team game and none of their players are ranked in the NHL’s top 30 in terms of point production.
Captain Mikko Koivu is leading the way offensively with 24 points, and five players are tied for the team lead with eight goals.