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Red-hot Wild host reeling Coyotes

by Davis Harper /

COYOTES (13-15-4) at WILD (19-10-2)


Last 10: Phoenix 2-7-1; Minnesota 8-2-0

Season series: This is the third and final meeting of the season, and the only one at Xcel Energy Center. The teams split the first two meetings, with each winning by a one-goal margin. Phoenix is 5-0-1 over its last six trips to Minnesota.

Big story: One team on a six-game win streak will welcome another in the middle of a six-game losing skid on Wednesday. Minnesota has won six in a row – and 14 of its last 18 – to bring the Wild even with Vancouver for first in the Northwest Division, while Phoenix has slipped to last in the Pacific after a six-game losing streak in which it’s been outscored 16-5.

Team scope:

Coyotes: It’s been tough sledding for Phoenix of late. After winning four of its first six to start March, Phoenix has lost six in a row – including three shutouts. The Coyotes lost four of those by one goal, including Monday’s matchup against Detroit. The Red Wings came to the desert on a hot streak, but Phoenix jumped out to a 2-1 first-period lead on goals from Martin Hanzal and Rob Klinkhammer. Over the final 40 minutes, however, the Coyotes conceded two power-play goals as back-up Jason LaBarbera moved to 0-4-0 with a 3.06 goals-against average as a starter in 2013. Now the Coyotes must earn valuable points – they sit four points outside of the eighth playoff spot – on the road, where they are 0-4-1 over their last five.

"I'm a big believer that you earn your breaks and you earn your confidence, and right now we're not doing those things," coach Dave Tippett said.

Wild: If Minnesota keeps winning at its current clip, the State of Hockey could clinch its first postseason berth since 2007-08 sooner rather than later. Much of the recent success has stemmed from a potent attack. Minnesota has outscored opponents 27-14 over its six-game win streak. In a 7-4 defeat of Dallas on Monday, Minnesota rattled off seven goals, its most in four seasons. And none of those goals came on the Wild’s suddenly effective power play, which had converted five of 11 chances over the previous four games.

"I love the way that we're scoring goals," said coach Mike Yeo. "There's skill involved, but it's matching our identity that we're a hard team. We're physical, we defend hard and we're going to be hard offensively with the way we get to the net and the way we wear on teams."

Who’s hot: The leaders are leading in Minnesota. Captain Mikko Koivu has five goals and 11 assists over the Wild’s 11-3-0 stretch while alternate captain Zach Parise has three goals and an assist in his past two games.

Injury report: LaBarbera might start again Wednesday for Phoenix, as Mike Smith is still day-to-day after suffering a head injury when he was knocked over by Vancouver’s Alexander Edler on March 21. Zbynek Michalek is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … Minnesota goalie Josh Harding is day-to-day with an illness.

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