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Phoenix
Coyotes
31-46-5
Minnesota
Wild
48-26-8

31 SOG
26 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
PHX
MIN
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Coyotes-Wild Preview

Tuesday, 03.20.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

An impressive road trip has helped the Minnesota Wild match the longest win streak in franchise history. An upcoming homestand could help them to their best run ever.

Minnesota looks to win its club-record seventh in a row as it begins a stretch of five straight home games against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.

The Wild (42-24-7) have matched a team-best six-game winning streak set from Oct. 5-18. Minnesota plays eight of its final nine regular season contests at the Xcel Energy Center, where it's 23-6-4 and has won three of its last four.

Minnesota tied the club record by concluding its three-game road trip with a 4-2 victory over Calgary on Saturday. Brian Rolston scored the tiebreaking goal at 4:47 of the third period to help the Wild to their fifth straight road victory.

"He's a great shooter," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "He's a guy that can score from that position. He's done it many times this year. He's very dangerous when he comes off the wing, and he lets that shot go."

Minnesota, surging toward its first playoff berth since the 2002-03 season, also defeated Northwest Division-leading Vancouver and Edmonton on the trip. The Wild have earned a point in all but one of their last 13 games and are locked in a battle with the Canucks for the division title.

"Hopefully, we can stay healthy and keep going," said Wild forward Marian Gaborik, who had a goal and an assist Saturday. "We're playing with a lot of confidence, and we're playing as a team. We're playing our system. We're playing tight hockey, and we showed it again.

"I don't think teams like to play against us when we're playing like that."

Gaborik has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. He has four goals in his last three meetings with Phoenix (28-40-4), which has dropped two of three to Minnesota this season.

The Wild's Niklas Backstrom made 19 saves against the Flames to win his fifth straight and improve to 8-1-1 with a 1.84 goals-against average since Feb. 20. The rookie has not allowed more than two goals in any of his last five starts. He's won nine of 13 appearances at home, posting a 1.70 GAA there.

Backstrom has two shutouts against Phoenix, most recently a 1-0 road victory Feb. 3.

The Wild will be looking to win their first season series against the Coyotes as the teams meet for the final time in 2006-07.

Phoenix has lost three straight and eight of its last nine, and is coming off a 5-4 overtime loss in Dallas on Sunday. Shane Doan forced the extra period with his team-leading 26th goal with 1:33 remaining, but Mike Ribeiro's second goal of the game with 40 seconds left in overtime gave the Stars the win.

The defeat was the second in as many nights for the Coyotes, who fell 6-3 at home to Colorado on Saturday.

"Getting in at four in the morning, it was a tough night and a tough game (Saturday)," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "And yet they battled through. I'm very proud of how our team played (Sunday)."

The Coyotes, who will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season, have lost three consecutive road games. They're 13-22-2 away from home and haven't won in Minnesota since Nov. 8, 2005.

Phoenix leads the series 12-8-0 with three ties, but the Wild have won four of the last five meetings.

The Wild's only loss in that stretch came Nov. 14 with Manny Fernandez in goal. He has made one relief appearance since returning from a sprained knee, but has not started since a win over St. Louis on Jan. 30.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 20 '07PHX 2 at MIN 3M. Gaborik
Feb 03 '07MIN 1 at PHX 0M. Gaborik
Nov 24 '06PHX 0 at MIN 4P. Bouchard
Nov 14 '06MIN 3 at PHX 4O. Saprykin
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%