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Wild times in Minnesota

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The Arizona Coyotes travel to St. Paul to play the Minnesota Wild tonight. Can the Coyotes build on their positive play from Tuesday night?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes are still struggling to put a complete game together. They will get another shot tonight when they take on the Minnesota Wild.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes (2-2-1) Minnesota Wild (2-2-0)
Points 5 (6th Pacific) 4th (5th Central)
Goals Per Game 3.20 (6th) 2.50 (T-18th)
Goals Against Per Game 4.20 (30th) 1.00 (1st)
Power Play Percentage 30.0% (6/20) (2nd) 0.0% (0/16) (T-28th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 79.0% (15/19) (19th) 92.3% (12/13) (T-2nd)
5v5 Fenwick For Percentage 52.36 (14th) 59.83% (2nd)
PDO 95.27 (28th) 102.08 (10th)

View from Arizona

The shootout loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night featured several positives for the Coyotes. Arizona managed to limit the damage in the first period, and mounted tough offensive pressure down the stretch to secure at least a point from the game. The power play continues to be a major strength of the team.

Still, there are lingering defensive issues that the Coyotes have been unable to address. The team held a third period lead for less than two minutes thanks to soft defending. As a result, the Coyotes squandered a chance to leave Nashville with a regulation win.

View from Minnesota

Before the season started, the biggest question mark for the Minnesota Wild was probably what the team was going to do at the goaltender position. Nicklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper, Josh Harding, and John Curry all dressed for the Wild at various points during the regular season. This season, the duo of Backstrom and Kuemper has paid major dividends for the Wild.

The offense for Minnesota is led by the usual suspects. Zach Parise is first in points, followed closely by Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter. Thomas Vanek, the team's major free agent acquisition in the offseason, has yet to score his first goal on the season. Though the team has relatively middling offensive numbers, the strong start from the goaltending has rendered the need for offense less pressing.

Who's Hot

For the Coyotes, Martin Erat is already poised to tie his goal total from last season thanks to a goal in the previous game. It appears he will bounce back from a career low season quite nicely.

Kuemper is off to an astonishingly good start for the Wild. In three appearances, he is 2-1-0 with a 0.67 GAA and a .972 SV%.

Keys to the Game

  • Escape the First - Minnesota doesn't surrender goals. Arizona tends to do so early on. The Coyotes need a clean sheet after 20 minutes as a confidence booster.
  • Make the Goalie's Life Easier - No matter who starts, the Coyotes have made their goaltenders work hard because of soft coverage down low and easy zone entries. Arizona has to make Minnesota's offense work for their chances.
  • Get a Good Game From OEL - Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still probably the team's best defenseman. He needs to really look like it against this Wild team.

Injury Report

Martin Hanzal (lower body) will not play in tonight's game. The Coyotes are completely healthy otherwise.

Josh Harding (broken foot) will continue to miss several months, while Keith Ballard (illness) will not play tonight. Thomas Vanek (thumb) will likely draw into the lineup.

Puck Drop

Tonight's contest begins at 5 p.m. Arizona time. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or 620 AM.