By Dave Vest
SAINT PAUL –
The Coyotes will begin a stretch of three games in four nights tonight with a match against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time). Fox Sports Arizona will broadcast tonight's game at 10:30 p.m.
Phoenix (36-19-5) will enter the game having won seven of its past eight games and in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 77 points. Only three teams in the NHL - Washington, San Jose and Chicago - have earned more points.
, who has stopped 70 of 76 shots vs. the Wild this season and posted a 3-0-0 record and a 2.00 goals-against average against them, will be in goal for Phoenix. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski
has led the way offensively for the Coyotes vs. Minnesota this season with four points, all assists.
The Coyotes are hoping captain/points leader Shane Doan
and center Vernon Fiddler
will be healthy enough to play. Both suffered upper-body injuries in Monday's 6-1 win over Edmonton and left that game early.
After Wednesday's morning skate, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said he is planning on both Doan and Fiddler playing tonight.
to listen to Tippett's pre-game remarks.
Center Joel Perrault also suffered an upper-body injury vs. Edmonton and was placed on the injured-reserve list on Tuesday.
Minnesota (29-25-4) has won four consecutive games at home and has earned at least one point in nine straight games at the Xcel Energy Center (8-0-1).
The Wild, who haven't played since beating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 at home on Saturday, will enter the game in 12th place in the Western Conference standings with 62 points, five points behind eighth-place Calgary.
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, who has missed the last six games because of a back injury and then an illness, will start tonight.
"Everything is good so far," Backstrom told NHL.com. "I have been skating four times, and so far everything is good and I think I'm ready to play. It's up to the coach to make the decision to see who plays, but I feel good out there."