COYOTES (18-16-4) at WILD (21-12-6)
TV: FS-A PLUS (HD), FS-N (HD), FS-WI (HD)
Phoenix 3-6-1; Minnesota 2-5-3
This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. On Dec. 10 in Phoenix, Kyle Brodziak
scored twice as the Wild jumped to a 4-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory.
Both teams are looking to move past a patch of adversity. The Coyotes are winless in four straight while the Wild have won just once in their last nine games.
When Phoenix drafted defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson
with the sixth pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, it was for his offensive potential. But now in his second NHL season, he's drawing attention -- and praise -- for his defensive-zone play.
Ekman-Larsson leads Coyotes blueliners with 64 hits and is seventh on the team with 30 blocked shots.
"He's a competitor," coach Dave Tippett told the Arizona Republic. "When you compete hard you make people mad, and that's what he's doing."
Ekman-Larsson still leads the team's defensemen with 6 goals, and he's second to teammate Keith Yandle
in points by a defenseman with 14, but certainly he's rounded out his game.
"He's jumped out there, he takes time and space away, he frustrates people by how well he's playing, and when you get into confrontations on the ice, that usually means you're doing something to bother somebody," Tippett said. "And sometimes that's not a bad thing.
"He's one of those players, he makes the game look easy, look simple. Defense is a hard position to jump in and play in. He had a decent year in his rookie year last year, but getting more responsibility, playing in tougher situations this year, and he's been a solid player for us."
Minnesota's 4-3 win Thursday against Edmonton snapped an eight-game winless skid, the team's first patch of adversity this season.
Coach Mike Yeo told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he was happy to snap the 0-5-3 skid, but didn't want his team to think it was out of the water.
"It's great we played a great game," Yeo said. "But the bottom line is let's get some traction from this. Let's take it to the next game, let's play another great game."
Yeo said there wasn't a lot of relief in ending the streak -- it's just a lesson to the players on how they have to play to be successful.
"Just a feeling of we did what we're supposed to do and we got rewarded for it," he said. "It's just a reminder of how we have to play and what happens if we go out and play that way."
Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker
snapped a 12-game goal drought by scoring a pair of goals Thursday against Colorado. … Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard
has 3 goals in his last five games. With 8 goals in 35 games, he's four short of the 12 he scored in 59 games last season.
The Coyotes are without goalie Mike Smith
(groin), center Martin Hanzal
(facial laceration) and forward Boyd Gordon
(lower body), all of whom are on injured reserve. … The Wild are missing forwards Guillaume Latendresse
(concussion), Casey Wellman
(upper body) and Devin Setoguchi
(lower body), along with defensemen Clayton Stoner
(lower body). Defenseman Jared Spurgeon
is questionable (lower body).
The Coyotes are 28th in the League in goals at home (41), but fifth in goals on the road (55).
Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky
scored at least 40 points in five of his first six seasons, but had 24 points in 46 games last season and just 6 points in his first 25 games this season.
But he had 3 assists in Thursday's win against the Oilers, which gave Yeo reason to smile.
"He's been assertive, jumping up in the play, carrying pucks," Yeo said.
The Wild could use any extra scoring they can get from their back end -- they have just 6 goals from defensemen this season.