The Coyotes will conclude a quick two-game trip tonight with a match against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix will enter the game looking to snap a two-game losing streak after falling to Nashville, 3-0, at the Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night.
Phoenix has won 3 games in a row at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo by Getty Images.
The Coyotes committed seven penalties that led to two power-play goals for the Predators.
"We had some guys really play hard, but in the end, you can't take penalties like that and expect to be successful," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "That's something that will be addressed."
Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes (11-7-5). It will be LaBarbera’s first game since he stopped 35 of 36 shots to key a 2-1 victory in Chicago on Nov. 10.
LaBarbera has played 128 games in the NHL but none against the Wild (see PODCASTS below).
Coyotes winger Ray Whitney, who leads the team with 16 points, has notched five consecutive multi-point games vs. the Wild with three goals and eight assists in that span.
The big story tonight for the Wild (11-10-2) surrounds left wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who is expected to make his season debut. Bouchard has played in just one game after taking a hit to the head in March 2009.
"The last seven to 10 days I've been feeling pretty good and pretty much symptom-free," Bouchard told the Wild's official Web site. "... I'm really excited, that's for sure, but I'm also a little nervous. It's been a long time and I've been waiting for that day to play again.”
The Wild rank second in the NHL in power-play efficiency (24.1 percent), but are just 1 for 19 with the man advantage in the past seven games.
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom last played on Saturday and allowed a career-high seven goals in 46:49 of ice time in a 7-4 loss to Colorado.
Coyotes center Eric Belanger has won 50 percent or more of his faceoffs in each of the past nine games, and ranks 15th in the NHL in faceoff success (56.1 percent).
Wild forward Martin Havlat has notched 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 23 games this season. In the past three games, he has chipped in two goals and three assists.
The Coyotes swept the four-game series from Minnesota in 2009-10 and outscored the Wild, 14-8, in those games.
The Coyotes are undefeated in five games against teams from the Northwest Division. Phoenix has beaten Edmonton twice, Calgary twice and Vancouver once.
This game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM). A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at phoenixcoyotes.com at 6 p.m.
"I've never played against them anywhere in my career... (but) for a goalie, it really just comes down to you and you really just getting focussed."