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Well-rested opponents meet as Coyotes host Wild

by Brian Hunter /
WILD (11-11-4) at COYOTES (13-7-6)

TV: FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD), FS-A (HD)

Last 10:
Minnesota 3-5-2; Phoenix 7-2-1

Season series:
Second of four meetings this season. Phoenix won 4-2 in Minnesota on Dec. 1 behind a pair of goals from Scottie Upshall.

Big story:
Both teams enter well-rested, as the Wild haven't played since Saturday and the Coyotes since Sunday. Phoenix, whose eight road wins are tied for the most in the Western Conference, will be looking to improve upon a mediocre 5-3-4 mark at Arena.
Team Scope:

Wild: Keeping the goals against down continues to be a primary focus in Minnesota, where the opponent has scored at least three goals in eight of the last nine games. Predictably, the Wild enter Thursday having lost five in a row and seven of their last eight. They managed points out of each of their last two games, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Flames on Friday and a 4-3 overtime defeat at the hands of the Stars on Saturday. Martin Havlat forced the extra period by scoring with 3:09 remaining.

"I'd have liked to have two (points), but the point that we got shows a lot of character of the group," coach Todd Richards said. "Down 2-0, it could have been a game you pack in and say you didn't have it."

Coyotes: Ever since Phoenix picked him up from Anaheim early in the 2007-08 season, Ilya Bryzgalov has tormented his former team. That continued Sunday night at the Honda Center, where Bryzgalov turned aside all 26 shots he faced. The shutout was his second of the season, 18th of his career and third against the Ducks. Taylor Pyatt, Shane Doan and Lee Stempniak all scored for the Coyotes.

"(Bryzgalov) is the backbone of our team," coach Dave Tippett said. "We play a style that he realizes he can have success with. He's doing his part. He's a fantastic goaltender."

Who's hot: Havlat has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak for the Wild. … Bryzgalov has allowed two goals or less in five of his last six starts, with a pair of shutouts.

Injury report:
Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns (illness) is day-to-day, while fellow blueliner Clayton Stoner (upper body) is out indefinitely. Goalie Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) and forwards James Sheppard (knee) and Guillaume Latendresse (sports hernia/hip) are on injured reserve. … Phoenix defenseman Kurt Sauer (concussion) is on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
The Coyotes have won their last five games against the Wild. … Stempniak played in his 400th NHL game against the Ducks and the empty-netter was his eighth goal of the season, tying him with Upshall for the team lead.

Puck drop:
Phoenix fans got good news out of the recently concluded Board of Governors meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., with the report that prospective buyer Matt Hulsizer's meeting with the executive committee went well -- another hurdle cleared in his bid to buy the team.

"When we ultimately get to the point of going for League approval where all the clubs vote on the transaction, it will carry the unanimous recommendation of the executive board for his approval," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

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