Luckily for the Desert Dogs, the Minnesota Wild aren’t as good as the Colorado Avalanche. They are still an excellent team that has given the Coyotes problems for years, but they aren’t the Avalanche, and that’s something.
Arizona’s biggest problem on Monday was their lack of finish. They came close a few times, and they did a really good job of crashing the net, but they couldn’t seem to put it home until the third period.
After they did get their first of the game, a power play goal midway through the third period, they scored another less than three minutes later.
That seems to happen a lot with the Coyotes. They were shut out in their previous game against the Vegas Golden Knights, and they seemed to be gripping their sticks extra hard. A lucky bounce in the first or second may have changed things for them, starting the comeback before it was still manageable.
Minnesota is a bit of a surprise this season. Most people thought they would be competing with the Coyotes for the fourth and final wild-card spot. But with Minnesota exceeding expectations and the St. Louis Blues falling short, they seem to have a comfortable grip over the third spot.
That’s not to say the Wild have been perfect lately or since beating the Coyotes three times in a row.
They lost two games to the San Jose Sharks, one in the shootout, the other during regulation. And last week they dropped back-to-back games against the Blues, one a 3-2 defeat in the shootout the other a 9-1, which happened the same night the Coyotes gave up 7 to the Golden Knights.
Special teams may prove key for tonight’s game, and both teams are relatively similar.
Both have top 10 penalty kills, the Wild are 5th at 84.0% and the Coyotes 10th at 82.1%, and bottom-tier power plays, Minnesota is 27th at 15.1% the Coyotes 20th with 19.6%.
A power play goal is what started the Coyotes’ partial comeback against the Avalanche, and it can be key to winning tonight’s game.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Michael Bunting - Is Michael Bunting the next Conor Garland, a player who had to spend a few years developing in the AHL before coming to the NHL and showcasing a surprising offensive flair? It remains to be seen, but in eight games he has six goals including the Coyotes' first goal on Monday.
Minnesota: Kirill Kaprizov - Kaprizov seems like a lock for rookie of the year and it's not hard to see why. When he has the puck he is the most dangerous man on the ice and he has already had a hat-trick against the Coyotes this season.
Arizona: Jordan Gross (knee, concussion), Antti Raanta (undisclosed), Darcy Kuemper (lower body)
Minnesota: Kevin Fiala (probable, upper body), Marcus Foligno (probable, lower body), Nick Bjugstad (questionable, upper body), Marco Rossi (upper body)
Due to the curfew imposed in response to the civil arrest following the death of Daunte Wright at the hands of police today's game was rescheduled to 11:00 AM Arizona time.