Skip to main content

Wild-Coyotes Preview @NHLdotcom

The Minnesota Wild are hoping a healthy Marian Gaborik can help lead them into the postseason for the first time since 2002-03.

Gaborik looks to build on his best offensive game in another injury-shortened season when the Wild continue a five-game road trip against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Gaborik missed 34 games earlier in the season with a groin injury, and appeared slower in his first 11 games back with Minnesota. He scored twice and added an assist Thursday in the Wild's 5-3 win over Colorado.

"He's back," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "He's all the way back."

Gaborik has nine goals and four assists since returning, scoring two goals in a game four times in that span. The Wild are 7-3-2 since Gaborik's return and are in eighth place in the Western Conference, six points ahead of Colorado and Edmonton in ninth.

Minnesota hasn't made a postseason appearance since being swept by Anaheim in the Western Conference finals in 2003.

"He's a great player," said Colorado goalie Peter Budaj, a fellow Slovakian and close friend of Gaborik. "He's one of the league's leading scorers, and if the injury hadn't happened to him, he would be up there with (Pittsburgh's Sidney) Crosby and those guys. He is a great star."

Mikko Koivu added a pair of goals for the Wild, and backup goalie Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves. Starting goalie Manny Fernandez was out with a slightly sprained left knee, and Minnesota recalled Josh Harding from the minors before the game as an emergency backup.

"That's part of the job, to be ready all the time," Backstrom said. "It's my job, and I have to do it and be ready."

Center Todd White was activated after missing five games because of a lower-body injury and took one shot.

Minnesota has won three of its last four games against the Coyotes (24-26-2), but is 1-2-1 in its last four in Phoenix. The Coyotes trail the Wild by 10 points in the West.

Phoenix has won three of its last five, including Thursday's 3-2 victory over NHL-leading Nashville. All-Star Yanic Perreault scored the game-winner with 5:29 left.

"If you're going to have success against really good teams like (Nashville), you have to have everybody going in the same direction," coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We received a tremendous effort out of our top players."

Perreault had two goals the Coyotes' 4-3 home win over the Wild on Nov. 14.

The Coyotes were coming off back-to-back losses, including a 2-1 defeat at Anaheim on Wednesday.

"It's good for us to get a win after having the lead (at Anaheim) and losing," said Shane Doan, who had a goal. "We needed to find a way to win, and it sets up the next game to get back to .500."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.