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Wild-Coyotes Preview

GAME: Minnesota Wild (26-24-4) at Phoenix Coyotes (27-25-3).

TIME: Saturday, 9 p.m. EST.

Newly acquired center Steve Reinprecht looks to build off his impressive debut with the Phoenix Coyotes when they meet the Minnesota Wild for the fourth and final time this season.

The Coyotes acquired Reinprecht and goaltender Philippe Sauve from the Calgary Flames on Wednesday for left wing Mike Leclerc and goalie Brian Boucher.

The trade immediately paid off as Reinprecht scored the lone shootout goal for the Coyotes in their 2-1 win Thursday over the Los Angeles Kings.

"I like this a lot," Reinprecht said. "The guys are really good and it's really a welcome feeling and nice environment. It's a first class organization and everything's great with the coaching staff."

Reinprecht also appeared to score in regulation but the goal was waived off by a penalty.

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky was impressed with Reinprecht's debut.

"He played very well," Gretzky said. "I'm sure he's tired. He played in Calgary (Wednesday night) and then flew to Phoenix (Thursday morning).

"He looked really good and gave us some speed up the middle. This was a nice start for him, and nice to see him get the winning goal."

The Coyotes are in 10th place in the Western Conference, six points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the eighth and final playoff berth.

Minnesota, one point behind Phoenix in the conference, avoided a season-high fourth straight loss with a 3-2 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Marian Gaborik tied the game at 2 by converting a penalty shot with 5:01 left in regulation, and leading scorer Brian Rolston netted the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout.

Rolston, however, praised goaltender Manny Fernandez, who made 21 saves in regulation and overtime before turning aside all five shots in the shootout.

"The biggest story of the game was Manny stopping five shots in a row," Rolston said. "All we needed was one and I got it. This was a huge road win."

Rolston failed to record a point in regulation, ending a season-high eight-game point streak. He needs six points to match his career high of 62 recorded in 2001-02 while with Boston.

Rolston scored two goals, including one short-handed, in the Wild's 3-2 win in Minnesota on Jan. 24.

STANDINGS: Wild - 56 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Northwest Division. Coyotes - 57 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Rolston, 23 goals, 33 assists and 56 points; Derek Boogaard, 108 PIM. Coyotes - Mike Comrie, 18 goals; Ladislav Nagy, 41 assists and 56 points; Sean O'Donnell, 114 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Wild - Power play: 17.3 percent (52 for 301), 16th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.6 percent (265 for 299), 1st. Coyotes - Power play: 18.2 percent (68 for 373), 11th. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (282 for 347), 19th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Fernandez (21-8-3, 1 SO, 2.11 GAA); Dwayne Roloson (5-16-1, 1, 3.00). Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (22-14-1, 2, 2.76); Sauve (3-3-0, 3.28).

SEASON SERIES: Coyotes, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 24; Wild, 3-2. At St. Paul, Minn., Gaborik had a goal and Fernandez made 18 saves for the Wild. Rookie defenseman Keith Ballard had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 10-13-3 on the road; Coyotes - 15-11-2 at home.

Associated Press
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