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Coyotes vs. Wild Preview

Arizona is hosting Minnesota in the season finale on Saturday

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will play the final game of their 2016-17 season on Saturday when they host the Minnesota Wild. The puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Arizona (30-41-10) has played well down the stretch and has earned at least one point in four straight games (3-0-1). 

Mike Smith will start in goal and take sole ownership of the franchise's record for games played by a goalie. Smith is currently tied with Bob Essensa with 311 games played.

Captain Shane Doan will play the final game of his 21st season in the NHL and move into a tie with John Bucyk for 14th place on the NHL's all-time games played list (1,540). Doan, 40, will become an unrestricted free agent after the season and has yet to announce if he will continue playing or retire. 

"Without a doubt, I'm going to enjoy it," Doan said about the season finale. "It's going to be special."

Doan acknowledged that Saturday's game could be his final game in the NHL, but he stopped short of saying it would be. 

"There's definitely that possibility, but there's also a possibility that it isn't," Doan said. "It's just the last one of the season. I'm not blind to the fact of what it could be, but by no way am I approaching it as it's going to be. So, I look forward to playing it."

Video: Shane Doan discusses his approach to season finale

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, whose future in the NHL beyond this season also is unclear, will play his first home game of the season. Michalek is aware that it will likely be his final game as a member of the Coyotes, for whom he's played 611 games. Only Doan has played more games for the Coyotes.

"It's probably going to be a little emotional for me, for sure," Michalek said. "I'll try to enjoy it and have fun with it. I don't know what's going to happen after this game or beyond this season. We'll see, so I'll just go out there and have fun. If it's my last game, it's meant to be. I started in Minnesota, so if it's my last game I'm glad it's against Minnesota. It's kind of cool and bittersweet at the same time."

Video: Michalek discusses playing season finale vs. Wild

Forwards Max Domi and Alexander Burmistrov, who have been playing on the same line lately, both will enter the game with four-game point streaks.

Rookie Christian Dvorak needs six face-off wins in the finale to set a new franchise record for face-off wins by a rookie. Dvorak has won 465 draws, five shy of Martin Hanzal's record.

Video: Dave Tippett previews Satuday's season finale vs Wild

Minnesota (48-25-8) has won three games in a row and can set a franchise record for wins and/or points in a season. Should Minnesota win, it would set a franchise record with its 49th win and its 106th point. Should Minnesota lose in overtime or a shootout, it would set a franchise record for points with 105.

"Obviously, we're doing something right this season," center Mikael Granlund, who is expected to play in his 200th consecutive game, told reporters. "We keep winning games. But we want something more from this season."

Minnesota, which is locked into second place in the Central Division and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, is 10-1-2 in its past 13 games vs. Arizona, including a current 10-game point streak (8-0-2). The streak is the Wild's longest active point streak against any NHL opponent.

Hanzal will play his first game vs. Arizona since the Coyotes traded him to Minnesota on Feb. 26 after nearly 10 full seasons of service. Hanzal produced 117 goals and 196 assists in 608 games for the Coyotes. He has notched 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 19 games with the Wild, including five points (two goals, three assists) in the past six games.

Forward Ryan White also will face the Coyotes for the first time since being traded to Minnesota, along with Hanzal, in February. White has chipped in two goals and an assist in 18 games since the deal. 

Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper is expected to start for Minnesota. Kuemper is 2-0-1 with a 1.00 goals-against average, and a .960 save percentage in three career starts vs. the Coyotes.

OFFICIAL GAME NOTES:

BROADCAST INFO:

TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620 AM

COYOTES PROJECTED LINEUP VS. COYOTES:

Forwards

Perlini - Dvorak - Doan

Domi - Burmistrov - Duclair

McGinn - Jooris - Vrbata

Crouse - Martinook - Rieder

Defensemen

Goligoski - Murphy

Connauton - Schenn

Chychrun - Michalek

Goalies

Smith

Domingue

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