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At the Rink: Wild at Coyotes

by Jerry Brown

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Already without captain Shane Doan and top center Martin Hanzal, the Arizona Coyotes will have to go without goalie Mike Smith when they play against the Minnesota Wild on Friday (9 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-A PLUS).

Smith, who made 18 saves Monday in a 4-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury he has been dealing with on and off for a few weeks. Arizona coach Dave Tippett said Smith aggravated the injury in practice and the Coyotes are being cautious with it.

Anders Lindback will start in place of Smith. The Coyotes recalled Louis Domingue from Springfield of the American Hockey League to dress as the backup.

The Wild are also without their No. 1 goalie. Devan Dubnyk, who started the 2014-15 season with the Coyotes, is not with the Wild and will miss his second straight game with a groin strain. Darcy Kuemper, who made 18 saves Monday in a 2-1 loss against the Colorado Avalanche, will make his fifth start for Minnesota.

Tippett said he hoped to have Doan, who will miss his ninth straight game, back as soon as Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Hanzal won't play in either game, but should be back early next week.

Without Hanzal, the Coyotes will do some line juggling. Forward Viktor Tikhonov, claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 7, will jump into the top six and center a line with wings Max Domi and Mikkel Boedker in an attempt to stimulate more offense. Arizona comes off an 0-5-0 road trip in which it scored two goals or fewer four times.

"We'll try Tikhonov in the center tonight and see how that goes," Tippett said. "We need solid goaltending from [Lindback] and we need to be solid in all three zones. It's as simple as that."

With several of their leaders sidelined, the Coyotes are looking for others to step up. Boedker wore an "A" for the first time against the Blues and Tippett pointed to others who need to chip in.

"When you are missing good, veteran players that normally fill that role you have to rely on others to fill in," he said. "We have to rely on guys like (defenseman Nicklas) Grossmann, (defenseman Zbynek) Michalek and (center Antoine) Vermette have to do their part in the dressing room."

The Coyotes, who have played an NHL-high 18 road games this season, open a six-game homestand against Minnesota and will play 13 of the next 15 games at Gila River Arena, where they have won four in a row.

"We've played the most road games and the fewest home games in the League right now and we have to take advantage now that it's going to even out with all these home games," Tippett said. "We had some winnable games on the road that we didn't win, and that puts the emphasis on making up for that at home. These games before Christmas are very important part of the schedule."

Minnesota extended its point streak to a season-high five games (3-0-2) with a 2-1 overtime loss against Colorado.

The Wild recalled defenseman Tyler Strachan from Iowa, but coach Mike Yeo will stick with the same six defensemen against the Coyotes. Minnesota also has a back-to-back, playing Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Erik Haula - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Devan Dubnyk (groin strain), Tyler Graovac (sports hernia)

Scratched: Tyson Strachan


Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Anthony Duclair

Max Domi – Viktor Tikhonov - Mikkel Boedker

Jordan Martinook - Brad RichardsonSteve Downie

Kyle Chipchura - Boyd GordonCraig Cunningham

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek

Nicklas Grossman - Connor Murphy

Anders Lindback

Louis Domingue

Injured: Martin Hanzal, Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone), Shane Doan (lower body), Mike Smith

Scratched: John Scott, Stefan Elliott

Status report: Tippett will put Murphy, who was a healthy scratch for the past two games, back in the lineup. Cunningham, also recalled from Springfield, will play on the fourth line.

Who's hot: Minnesota owns a five-game winning streak at Arizona, dating to Feb. 28, 2013. The Wild have allowed 64 goals in the first 26 games and three in four December games. … Domi has three goals and nine points in 10 home games this season.

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