Coyotes go for first division title vs. Wild

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

COYOTES (41-27-13) at WILD (35-35-11)

TV: FS-Arizona+ (HD); FS-North (HD)

Last 10: Phoenix 6-2-1; Minnesota 6-3-1

Season Series: The teams end their regular seasons by playing for the fourth and final time. The visiting team has won all three, including the Coyotes' 4-2 win in St. Paul on New Year's Eve.

Big Story: While the Wild have gone from tops in the League after a December win in Phoenix to a playoff outsider in April, the Coyotes are one win away from assuring themselves of the first division title since the franchise entered the NHL as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: The Coyotes know the Pacific Division title is in their hands. Phoenix looks sharp and smart in Friday's 4-1 win at St. Louis, dominating the Central Division champions in every aspect of the game. When the Blues did generate some offense, goaltender Mike Smith was there -- he stopped 31 of 32 shots, though his scoreless streak ended at 234 minutes and 25 seconds when he allowed a goal late in the first period.

"He's been so big for us," captain Shane Doan said of Smith, who has allowed just one goal in his last 13 periods of play. "We haven't played so well in the last three games. We wanted to give him a little break. It was nice to give him more than one goal to work with."

Wild: Minnesota is ending the season on a positive note thanks to its prowess after regulation. The Wild completed a home-and-home sweep of Chicago with a 2-1 shootout win on Thursday. Minnesota is 4-0-1 in its last five games -- all of which have gone past 60 minutes -- and has won three in a row, all in shootouts.

"It's a team that doesn't quit," said coach Mike Yeo, whose club needs a win to avoid its worst finish in 10 years.

Who's Hot: Smith has won four in a row, allowing just one goal. He stopped 161 consecutive shots before allowing Patrik Backlund's goal on Friday. Radek Vrbata has four goals in the Coyotes' last four games. … Minnesota's Dany Heatley has four points in the Wild's last three games.

Injury Report: Phoenix does not list any injuries. … The Wild will be without suspended defenseman Nate Prosser as well as a host of injured players that includes defensemen Clayton Stoner (upper body), Jared Spurgeon (concussion) and Steve Kampfer (undisclosed), as well as forwards Matt Cullen (finger) and Matt Kassian (groin).

Stat Pack: The Wild tied an NHL record on Thursday by playing in their 20th shootout; they are 11-9 in the tiebreaker. … Phoenix has outscored its opponents 14-1 during its four-game winning streak.

Puck Drop: A division title would be special to all of the Coyotes, but there might be a little extra satisfaction for Doan, the team's captain and the only remaining member of the team that moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996.

"It's a huge game," Doan said. "We'd love to have that third seed instead of having to go on the road."

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