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Coyotes return home to host Wild

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 6:04 PM

WILD (9-7-2) at COYOTES (9-7-3)

TV: FS-North, FS-Wisconsin, FS-Arizona

Last 10: Minnesota 5-4-1, Phoenix 6-3-1

Season series: This is the second of three meetings between these teams; the Coyotes won 2-1 in Glendale on Feb. 9. Phoenix held a 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 most of February, but have won three of their last four games.

Team Scope:

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 past Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald with 4:19 remaining in regulation.

Minnesota opened overtime with a 4-on-3 advantage after Flames defenseman Mark Giordano received a delay-of-game penalty with 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 MacDonald.

Coyotes: After winning four of five games, Phoenix went on its own swing through Alberta, losing 3-2 to Edmonton in a shootout on Saturday before falling 5-4 to the Flames the next night. They were looking to get back on the winning track as they wrapped up their Western Canadian trip in Vancouver on Tuesday.

Coming into the game with two goals (his only two of the season) in his previous four games, fourth-line center Kyle Chipchura continued his hot play when he opened the scoring late in the opening period. From there, the Coyotes were able to pad their lead, but each time Vancouver responded quickly.

Mikkel Boedker doubled the Coyotes' lead midway through the second, but Jason Garrison replied just 91 seconds later. Phoenix then doubled their lead on Antoine Vermette's third-period marker, only to allow a goal by Henrik Sedin 64 seconds after that. But after blowing third-period leads in the losses at Edmonton and Calgary, the Coyotes were able to hang on, with Chipchura sewing up the 4-2 win with an empty-net goal.

Who's hot: 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. … For the Coyotes, Chipchura has four goals in his last five games while Vermette and Boedker both have five points in their last five games.

Injury report: Minnesota is missing goaltender Josh Harding (illness) and forward Cal Clutterbuck (concussion). … Phoenix defensemen David Schlemko (shoulder) and Derek Morris (upper body) are on IR while forwards Radim Vrbata (lower body) and Martin Hanzal (upper body) are questionable for Thursday.

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