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Game #17 Preview: Arizona vs. Minnesota

Richardson and Oesterle return to the lineup, Kuemper to make his 12th start, top power play unit shuffled

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #17: ARIZONA (9-5-2) VS. MINNESOTA (5-10-1)

6:00 PM MST - Gila River Arena | Glendale, Arizona

TV: Fox Sports Arizona (Matt McConnell, Tyson Nash, Todd Walsh, Jody Jackson)

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis, Paul Bissonnette)

Referees: Justin St. Pierre #12, Kendrick Nicholson #30

Linesmen: Libor Suchanek #60, Scott Driscoll #68

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ARIZONA VS. MINNESOTA

The Coyotes host the Minnesota Wild tonight at Gila River Arena as they close out their two-game home stand, marking the first of three scheduled meetings between the teams this season.

Arizona will make its lone visit to Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center on November 14; the Wild will return to Gila River Arena for the series finale on December 19.

The Coyotes are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night; they have dropped consecutive games (0-1-1) for the first time since the first two games of the season, October 3 at Anaheim and October 5 against Boston.

"It's the last game of the home stand and then we're looking at three on the road, and we want to go into that trip feeling good," said Alex Goligoski . "We're expecting a tough game tonight, Minnesota hasn't had the start they wanted and they're going to be working for this one. It's not going to be easy, but it's one we want to win before heading out on the road."

The Wild are coming off a 6-5 loss to the San Jose Sharks and are playing the third of a four-game west coast road trip. Minnesota has dropped four of its last five games (1-3-1) and five of its last seven (2-4-1).

Darcy Kuemper will start in net, per Rick Tocchet, making his 12th start of the season.

Brad Richardson and Jordan Oesterle will return to the Coyotes' lineup tonight; Jason Demers will be a game-time decision.

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THREE THINGS

WELCOMED RETURNS: Defenseman Jordan Oesterle and forward Brad Richardson will be back in the lineup for the Coyotes tonight. Oesterle has missed eight of the team's last 10 games due to an upper-body injury, and is expected to play alongside Aaron Ness . Richardson has missed the last seven games and will be reunited with line-mates Michael Grabner and Vinnie Hinostroza .

FOR A SPARK: The Coyotes have failed to convert on the power play in each of their previous 12 man advantage opportunities, and are just 1-for-16 dating back to October 30. The team skated a new-look top unit this morning in Derek Stepan , Carl Soderberg , Nick Schmaltz , Phil Kessel , and Jakob Chychrun . "Having [Soderberg] and [Stepan] together as retrieval guys, and then you have two distributors in [Kessel] and [Schmaltz], and then you have Chychrun up top as a shooter," Tocchet said of the new alignment. "We've got to get that middle shot and we haven't been getting it, we're deferring too much. Chychrun's probably got our best shot back there, and maybe he can kind of loosen up the other team's PK."

STAY DISCIPLINED: To begin the season, the Coyotes were one of the least-penalized teams in the NHL. They have been called for 26 minutes worth of minor penalties over the course of the last four games. "Enough's enough," Tocchet said. "You can't take four or five penalties, and the hooking and holding's got to go. Those are the details we talk about that have slipped a little bit, you can't hook and hold, they'll call the penalty. We've got to be better at that, be a more disciplined team." Minnesota is converting on 17.3% of its power plays (9-for-52), ranked 20th in the NHL.

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LAST TIME AROUND

March 31, 2019 - Arizona (4) vs. Minnesota (0)

The Coyotes scored in every period while Darcy Kuemper put forth a perfect performance during the teams' previous meeting, a 4-0 victory over the Wild on March 31 of last season at Gila River Arena.

Alex Galchenyuk opened the scoring in the first period, Josh Archibald doubled the Coyotes' lead in the second and then added an empty net tally, along with Vinnie Hinostroza, late in the third.

Kuemper set a new career-high mark with his fifth shutout of the season, stopping all 39 Minnesota shots, including a highlight-reel save on Brad Hunt with three minutes to play while the Coyotes held a late-game 2-0 lead.

The Coyotes finished with a 2-1-0 record against the Wild last season.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

FIVE (5)

With his first period goal Thursday night, Carl Soderberg climbed the ladder to become third on the Coyotes' roster in goals scored this season with five; he trails Christian Dvorak (6) and Conor Garland (7).

He is coming off a 2018-19 campaign in which he registered a career-high 23 goals, and though it is way too early to make projections, he is on pace to score 25 this season.

The 34-year-old power forward has produced well against Minnesota during his career, putting up 14 points (7G, 7A) in 22 games, including four points (2G, 2A) in four games versus the Wild last season with the Colorado Avalanche.

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QUICK HITS

  • Darcy Kuemper played five seasons with the Wild, posting a 41-34-14 record with a .910 SV% and a 2.60 GAA.
  • Arizona owns a 29-29-3-4 all-time record against Minnesota.
  • Minnesota's Mikko Koivu has 33 points (8G, 25A) in 41 career games against the Coyotes.
  • Phil Kessel has registered 16 points (5G, 11A) in 18 career games against the Wild.
  • The Wild's Mats Zuccarello enters the night with a five-game point streak (3G, 3A).
  • The Coyotes' 37 goals-against are the third-fewest in the NHL (New York Islanders - 34, Boston Bruins - 35).

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Lead Photo Credit: Kevin Anggara - Arizona Coyotes // Footer Photo Credit: Norm Hall - Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage - Fox Sports Arizona, Altitude Sports

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