WILD (19-7-3) AT COYOTES (15-10-3)
TV: FS-North (HD), FS-Wisconsin (HD), FS-Arizona (HD)
LAST 10: Minnesota 8-2-0, Phoenix 5-5-0
Season Series: The Wild and the Coyotes are meeting for the first of four times this season. They split four games last season, with Coyotes edging the Wild 1-0 in the last meeting on Feb. 5. Taylor Pyatt scored the lone goal in that contest and despite the loss, Nicklas Backstrom stopped 41 shots for the Wild.
Big Story: Not much was expected from either team before the season started, but Saturday's game matches the Pacific Division-leading Coyotes against the Wild, who lead all teams with 41 points and are coming off the first three-game California sweep in franchise history. Minnesota has won six in a row overall and six straight on the road.
Minnesota: There is a chance that Backstrom will start on Saturday after missing two games with a groin injury. He dressed on Thursday in Los Angeles but did not play. Backstrom has faced the Coyotes 16 times in his career and is 10-6-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and a save percentage of .936. He has shut the Coyotes three times, the most of any non-division rival.
However, coach Mike Yeo could opt to go with the hot hand and start rookie Matt Hackett, who was called up from the Wild' AHL affiliate last Saturday. Hackett is 2-0-0 after beating San Jose 2-1 in relief of an injured Josh Harding and stopping 42 shots to beat Los Angeles 4-2 on Thursday night in his first NHL start.
"I can't explain it. It's been crazy," Hackett said. "It's the best 72 hours of my life so far. I'm just living the dream right now, and I just want to keep it going."
Yeo emphasized to the media that there is no goalie controversy - of course, that's easy to say with the most wins in the League (19) and a six-game win streak to ease the pressure.
Phoenix: The Coyotes are glad to be back home after ending a quick three-game trip to the Midwest with a 5-2 loss in Detroit on Thursday. The Wings scored five times in the opening period and never looked back.
"The puck dropped, and we made about four or five key mistakes early, and they jumped on us," coach Dave Tippett told the team's website. "We knew they were going to come hard. Our schedule's been a tough schedule and we needed to hang around that game to give us a chance, and we were out of it early."
The loss to the Wings couldn't negate the first two games of the trip -- the Coyotes won 4-3 in a shootout at Chicago on Monday and beat the Predators 3-2 in Nashville the next night.
Who's Hot: Wild captain Mikko Koivu has 11 assists in as many games as well as three goals and leads the Wild with 24 points, including 18 assists. ... Radim Vrbata has four points in his last four games (2 goals) and leads the Coyotes with 14 goals on the season.
Injury Report: Harding (upper body) is day to day while Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Marek Zidlicky (concussion), Justin Faulk (upper body) and Devin Setoguchi (lower body) are on IR. Cal Clutterbuck did not play on Thursday… The Coyotes are without defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury.
Stat Pack: A win would give the Wild a seven-game winning streak, the longest in franchise history. The six-game road winning streak is already a franchise best.
Puck Drop: The Wild are winning the hard way -- by spotting the opposition the lead. Minnesota has allowed the game's first goal 18 times, but has won a League-high 12 of those games.