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Preview: Wild at Coyotes

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:24 PM

NHL.com | Dave Vest

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Preview: Wild at Coyotes
Minnesota Wild vs. Phoenix Coyotes

Season series: This is the second of three meetings between these teams, who met in Glendale on Feb. 9 in a game the Coyotes won 2-1. Phoenix held a slight 2-1-1 edge over the Wild last season.

Big story: After a difficult first month, the Coyotes have enjoyed a strong February that has helped them get back near the top of an ultra-competitive Pacific Division. The Wild, on the other hand, started strong before struggling through February, but have won three of their last four games.

Team Scope:

Photo by Getty Images.

Coyotes: After winning four of five games, Phoenix went on a swing through western Canada, losing 3-2 to Edmonton in a shootout on Saturday before falling 5-4 to the Flames the next night. They salvaged the road trip by beating Vancouver 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Tonight's game vs. Minnesota is the first of three straight at home for Phoenix over the next five days.

Defenseman Derek Morris, who missed the past five games because of an upper-body injury, is expected back in the lineup vs. the Wild. Injured forwards Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata will not play for the Coyotes, who are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings.

The Coyotes are 4-2-1 at home and 9-2-2 overall vs. Minnesota under Head Coach Dave Tippett.

"They are a hard-working team that plays with good structure," Tippett said about the Wild, who are one point behind Phoenix in the standings. "They're probably not scoring as much as they'd like to right now but they're a very determined team and they've been finding ways to get points."

Note: CLICK HERE TO WATCH A PREVIEW OF TONIGHT'S GAME

Coyotes forward Kyle Chipchura has notched four goals and three assists in his last nine games. On Tuesday, he recorded his first career multi-goal game and registered his 50th career point at Vancouver. The Coyotes are 13-3-3 in games when Chipchura records a point over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, forward Paul Bissonnette has notched an assist in each of the past three games - the first point streak of his NHL career.

Wild: Minnesota's 2-4-1 start to February undid a strong 4-2-1 record in January. But after topping the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 17, the team split a two-game swing through Alberta, beating the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 before losing to the Calgary Flames by the same score. They then completed a home-and-home series with Calgary as they welcomed the Flames to Xcel Energy Center looking to avenge their loss on Saturday.

Tuesday night against the Flames, Minnesota fell behind early as Alex Tanguay opened the scoring for Calgary midway through the opening period. Despite outshooting Calgary 20-9 in the second and third periods, the Wild were unable to even the score until rookie Jason Zucker redirected Devin Setoguchi's shot with 4:19 remaining in regulation.

Minnesota then opened overtime with a 4-on-3 advantage after Flames defenseman Mark Giordano received a delay-of-game penalty with just 43 seconds remaining in regulation. It was on that power play that Zach Parise took a Mikko Koivu pass in front of the net and put a quick backhand past Joey MacDonald.

Chipchura

Who's hot: After scoring zero goals in his first 14 games of the season, Chipchura has notched four goals in his last five games. Meanwhile, Vermette and Boedker each have five points in their last five games. ... Zucker has two goals in four games for Minnesota since being called up from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. Ryan Suter has seven points (all assists) in his last eight games while Koivu has four points in his last five games.

Injury report: Forwards Radim Vrbata (lower body) and Martin Hanzal (upper body) are out. Defensemen David Schlemko (upper body) is still on IR. ... Minnesota is missing goaltender Josh Harding (illness) and forward Cal Clutterbuck (concussion).

2012-2013 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 27 '13PHX 3 at MIN 4 - OTM. Koivu
Feb 28 '13MIN 4 at PHX 3J. Spurgeon
Feb 04 '13MIN 1 at PHX 2M. Hanzal
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
Z. Parise198614-21242
M. Koivu1931114-41000
R. Suter1901212-4800
D. Heatley197411-3621
M. Cullen193811+0400
D. Setoguchi19369+01422
T. Gilbert19358-61010
M. Granlund17156+0400
P. Bouchard17235+4801
C. Clutterbuck16224+0600
J. Zucker5303+2400
K. Brodziak19123-7200
J. Brodin16033+2600
T. Mitchell17112-31001
J. Spurgeon10112-2211
C. Stoner19022+01100
M. Rupp18101-12700
C. Coyle8101-1900
M. Scandella6101-1400
J. Falk16011-5900
Z. Konopka15000+05200
N. Prosser9000+3200
D. Powe8000+1900
J. Larsson1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Backstrom158-5-2334002.22.918
J. Harding41-1-07612.92.885
D. Kuemper21-1-04612.02.934
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Boedker2041115+2420
O. Ekman-Larsson2031013+101401
R. Vrbata154812-1810
K. Yandle203811+23011
M. Hanzal127310-1222
A. Vermette205510+11212
S. Doan205510-21901
L. Korpikoski20459+0410
K. Chipchura20448+43700
S. Sullivan17448-21820
D. Moss20268+11000
N. Johnson14426+3011
R. Torres12426+1900
D. Morris15066+01600
B. Gordon20055-3600
M. Lombardi8134-1010
P. Bissonnette13033+32000
M. Stone13112-7810
R. Klesla11112-2400
Z. Michalek20022+61000
D. Schlemko9022+1200
D. Rundblad8011-5000
A. Bolduc7000-3200
C. Summers5000-4900
A. Miele1000+1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Smith167-6-2414252.79.904
J. LaBarbera51-2-091022.58.912
C. Johnson21-0-12420.98.952
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