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Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 1:49 AM
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Minnesota Wild vs. Phoenix Coyotes

The Skinny
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By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes will look to snap a season-high four-game losing streak tonight when they host the
Minnesota Wild at Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).

Phoenix (33-25-9) will enter the game in seventh place in Western Conference standings but just two points behind Pacific-Division leading Dallas.

Backup Jason LaBarbera will start in goal in place of Mike Smith. It will be LaBarbera’s first start since Feb. 13 at Vancouver.

“We’re putting ‘Barbs' in because we think he can win the game for us and (it will) give 'Smitty' some rest and time to work on his game,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.

LaBarbera, who has posted a 1-0-1 record vs. Minnesota in his career with a 3.97 goals-against average, says he is thrilled the coaches have turned to him to help the team get out of its funk (see PODCASTS below).

The Coyotes have fallen behind in the first period of every game during their losing streak. In fact, oppponents have outscored Phoenix 8-1 in the first 20 minutes in those games.

Winger Ray Whitney continues to lead the Coyotes offensively but he needs help. Radim Vrbata, the team’s leading goal scorer with 30, has not lit the lamp in the past seven games, and captain Shane Doan has not scored in the past five games.

Photo by Getty Images.
Minnesota (28-29-10) will enter the game with a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) and eight points out of eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

The Wild have been outscored 23-5 during the losing streak.

"I can assure you that these guys care," Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo told reporters after the team’s 7-1 loss at Colorado on Tuesday. "These guys are hurting right now. It's real hard for guys emotionally to come to the rink and get your mind straight with what we're going through right now. If you want to get excited about something, I can guarantee this is a group that will keep on fighting."

Injuries have derailed Minnesota’s season; the Wild have had an NHL-most 44 players skate this season, surpassing the team record of 40 set in 2009-10. Captain Mikko Koivu, fellow forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Guillaume Latendresse and Cal Clutterbuck and goalie Niklas Backstrom all are sidelined.

Goalie Josh Harding is expected to start tonight after relieving rookie Matt Hackett on Tuesday.

Who's Hot
Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney has notched 10 points in the past 10 games and is just 13 shy of 1,000 for his NHL career.
Left wing Dany Heatley has played all 67 games and leads the Wild with 20 goals and46 points.
Did You Know?
  • The Coyotes own a 7-2-1 record against the Wild over the past 10 games. 

  • The Coyotes will wear their black sweaters for tonight's game. Phoenix is 3-5-2 when donning its black sweaters this season.

  • Tonight's game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Arizona Plus and on XTRA Sports 910 AM at 7 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.

  Niklas Backstrom
  P-M. Bouchard
  Cal Clutterbuck
  Justin Falk
  Mikko Koivu
  G. Latendresse
  Mike Lundin
  Clayton Stoner
  Kyle Chipchura
  Rostislav Klesla
  David Schlemko

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 07 '12 PHX 4 at MIN 1 T. Pyatt
Mar 08 '12 MIN 3 at PHX 2 - SO D. Heatley
Dec 31 '11 PHX 4 at MIN 2 R. Vrbata
Dec 10 '11 MIN 4 at PHX 1 M. Koivu
D. Heatley68202646+32263
M. Koivu45102737+101611
M. Cullen67142034-72440
K. Brodziak68171633-176240
D. Setoguchi55171330-112472
C. Clutterbuck6114822-39522
P. Bouchard3791322-11823
N. Johnson6461622-53301
J. Spurgeon6531922-4621
T. Gilbert5331417-51421
K. Foster4341014-163320
M. Zidlicky4101414-62400
D. Powe684711-194901
N. Prosser381910-133300
G. Latendresse16549+62011
M. Scandella50358-191511
N. Palmieri35437-71200
C. Wellman14257-4001
J. Falk41167-104310
G. Zanon39246-11401
W. Peters45145-115000
E. Christensen35145-13610
N. Schultz62123-103010
S. Kampfer13123+1400
C. McMillan11123+11101
C. Stoner39033+64700
B. Bulmer9033+1600
M. Kassian21202-25000
C. Rau7202+0002
J. Ortmeyer21112-71001
D. McIntyre7112-1200
C. Gillies37022-51000
M. Lundin17022-1400
J. Taffe5022+2000
C. Almond9101-5800
J. Palmer6101-2400
B. Staubitz43000-77300
S. Veilleux8000-2900
K. Fredheim2000+0200
J. Disalvatore1000+0200
K. Foucault1000+0000
N. Backstrom4217-17-69511912.44.920
J. Harding289-10-4697932.79.913
M. Hackett83-2-0101761.89.943
R. Whitney68214061+212461
R. Vrbata68302555+2022710
S. Doan68202141-103955
K. Yandle6892938+34002
L. Korpikoski68151732+51203
M. Hanzal5482331+114932
A. Vermette6892029-181823
O. Ekman-Larsson6881624-42611
D. Langkow5981422-81411
B. Gordon6171320+91001
M. Boedker6881119-31201
R. Torres6511718-55010
T. Pyatt657815-41900
K. Chipchura4721315+54000
R. Klesla512911+92500
D. Schlemko4111011+71000
A. Aucoin58279+123810
D. Morris48189-102600
M. Rozsival40178+21800
G. Brule19347+1210
D. Rundblad30167-12600
C. O'Reilly27246-7410
P. O'Sullivan23224-4200
C. Summers21033-41100
M. Pouliot9022-3200
P. Bissonnette25101-33601
M. Stone7011+2000
P. Nokelainen5011-1000
A. Miele7000-3600
K. Turris6000-2400
M. Watkins1000-1000
M. Smith5429-17-712015912.32.925
J. LaBarbera183-8-3394572.45.915
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