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Coyotes' Smith to be re-evaluated next week

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith won't be on the ice to test his lower-body injury until at least the end of next week, but coach Dave Tippett is hoping he will be able to return to the lineup before the end of the regular season.

Smith, who was injured late in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, is back to working out off the ice and will have his injury re-evaluated at the end of the week.

Tippett said he was very optimistic Smith would return before the end of the season. The Coyotes have eight games remaining, including Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Goalie Thomas Greiss will make his third straight start against the Wild. The teams hold the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are separated by one point.

The Coyotes are 10-3-1 in March and Greiss has picked up where Smith left off with road wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils to keep Phoenix three points up on the Dallas Stars and in striking distance of the Wild. Dallas has one game in hand on the two teams ahead of it in the standings.

Phoenix will scratch veteran defenseman Derek Morris for a third straight game, and forward David Moss will be a game-time decision after suffering a lower-body injury against the Devils on Thursday. If he can't go, center Mike Ribeiro, a healthy scratch for the past two games, would return.

Minnesota coach Mike Yeo will scratch forward Dany Heatley and is reuniting his top two lines in the hopes of shaking up a team that has lost four of the past five games. Forward Matt Moulson will join Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine on the third line.

"We are not done with him," Yeo said of Heatley. "We're going to need him again."

Former Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov will start for Minnesota.

Here are the projected lineups for the Wild and Coyotes:


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Matt Cooke

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Nate Prosser

Marco Scandella - Jonathon Blum

Ilya Bryzgalov

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Dany Heatley, Mike Rupp, Cody McCormick

Injured: Jason Zucker (quad), Keith Ballard (groin), Clayton Stoner (knee), Josh Harding (illness), Niklas Backstrom (abdomen)


Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Lauri Korpikoski - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata

Brandon McMillan - Mike Ribeiro - Martin Erat

Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Chipchura - Jeff Halpern

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek

Keith Yandle - Connor Murphy

Chris Summers - Michael Stone

Thomas Greiss

Mark Visentin

Scratched: Derek Morris, Brandon Gormley, Paul Bissonnette

Injured: David Moss (lower body), Mike Smith (lower body), David Schlemko (lower body)

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