Looking to remain in playoff position in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Wild need to end their road rut upon returning from the All-Star break.
Considering how well they’ve fared against the Arizona Coyotes of late, a visit to Tempe, Ariz., on Monday night might help the cause.
Minnesota entered the break third in the Central Division, but with little room for error to stay within the top eight teams in the West. The Wild have won their last two contests, each by 3-2 counts, against Philadelphia and Buffalo — both at home, in overtime and via shootout, respectively.
Prior to those victories, Minnesota dropped a season-high three straight on the road, where it will be for the first two games out of the break.
“Every game is going to be amped up,” Wild forward Ryan Reaves told the Star Tribune. “Teams are going to be scratching and clawing for points.
“I think where we’re sitting right now, we have to be one of those teams that doesn’t take any game lightly, or any points lightly, because where we’re at right now, teams can jump us, and we can also jump some teams.”
Arizona, meanwhile, has the third-fewest points in the West with 38 and appears set to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season. However, Minnesota hasn’t taken the Coyotes lightly while winning both previous meetings this season and 14 of the last 16. The Wild have also won three straight and six of the last seven at Arizona, but this will be their first visit to the Coyotes’ cozy rink in Tempe.
Arizona has just three wins in the last 16 games but is amid a 2-1-1 stretch after falling 2-1 at Anaheim in overtime Jan. 28. Despite the result, Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny was pleased with his team’s effort in that contest and of late.
“The more the game went on, the better we were,” Tourigny said. “More competitive, more physical. So there were a lot of positives.”
The Coyotes have won two of their last three at home, where netminder Karel Vejmelka made 33 saves during a 5-0 victory over St. Louis in their most recent game there Jan. 26. Vejmelka stopped 68 of 69 shots while winning his last two starts after posting a 4.23 goals-against average during an eight-game losing streak.
Backup Connor Ingram (3.59 GAA) made 43 saves versus Anaheim. He stopped 50 of 56 shots faced in the two one-goal road losses against the Wild this season.
Minnesota’s Marc-Andrew Fleury allowed four goals on 51 shots faced while winning both of those games against Arizona. However, he’s 0-2-2 with a 4.16 GAA in four 2023 road contests.
Meanwhile, teammate Filip Gustavsson has a 1.90 GAA while going 5-3-0 on the road this season.
Wild star Kirill Kaprizov has two goals with five assists during a five-game point streak. He’s posted 19 points in 13 career games versus Arizona.
Kaprizov spent All-Star weekend in Florida playing alongside Arizona’s Clayton Keller, who has totaled just five of his team-leading 41 points in the last 14 games. He has a goal with four assists in his last six games against Minnesota.
–Field Level Media