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Wild Warmup: Minnesota at Arizona

Minnesota hits the road in search of its sixth consecutive victory Thursday against the Coyotes

by Dan Myers @DanMyers / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Minnesota Wild (36-20-7, 79 points, third in Central) at Arizona Coyotes (18-34-10, 46 points, eighth in Pacific)

Puck drop: 8:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


The opponent

Despite a dreadful start to the 2017-18 regular season, the Arizona Coyotes have clawed to within three points of the Buffalo Sabres for 30th in the League standings. It may not sound like much, but for a team that didn't earn its first win until Oct. 30 -- in its 12th game -- its rally is quite impressive.

The Coyotes are currently playing their best hockey of the season, going 6-3-1 during their past 10 games, a stretch bested by only Anaheim (6-2-2) in the Pacific Division.

That span includes a 4-3 overtime win at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 8, a game in which the Coyotes dug themselves out of a 3-0 hole by scoring four times unanswered. Clayton Keller tallied the winning goal 3:55 into the extra session. Nick Cousins scored twice in the game, and Derek Stepan had a pair of assists.

The meeting Thursday is the second of three games, and the first of two in Glendale; the two clubs square off again at Gila River Arena in 16 days. 

Keller leads the Coyotes offensively and is in the midst of a breakout rookie campaign. He's scored 17 goals and has 44 points, both first on the club. Stepan is second with 39 points, and Brendan Perlini has 16 goals.

Antti Raanta has been solid when healthy, especially lately. He's 13-15-6 on the year with a 2.46 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. Former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last week, is his backup. 


Connections

• Wild assistant coach John Anderson served as an assistant coach for two years for the Coyotes (2011-13).

• Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk went 9-5-2 with a 2.72 GAA, .916 SV% and one shutout in 19 games (16 starts) with Arizona during the 2014-15 season before being acquired by the Wild on Jan. 14, 2015.

• Wild forward Daniel Winnik was selected in the ninth round (265th overall) by the Coyotes in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He totaled 52 points (18-34=52) and 100 penalty minutes in 202 games with Arizona (2007-10).

• Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper was selected by the Wild in the sixth round (161st overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and backstopped 102 games (89 starts), posting a 41-34-14 record with a 2.60 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and seven shutouts in five seasons (2012-17).

• Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski is from Grand Rapids and played college hockey at the University of Minnesota. 

• Coyotes forward Derek Stepan hails from Hastings and played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin.


Hot against the Coyotes

The Wild has a 12-game point streak (9-0-3) against Arizona since Jan. 9, 2014 -- the longest point streak versus an opponent in franchise history.

The Wild has points in 14 of the last 15 games (11-1-3) against the Coyotes since Feb. 28, 2013 and a seven-game point streak (6-0-1) in Arizona during thats stretch. It has points in 10 of its last 12 visits (9-2-1) since Dec. 9, 2010.

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