(Sports Network) – The Phoenix Coyotes will aim for a fourth straight win in the Gopher State when they visit the Wild this evening at Xcel Energy Center.
Phoenix has won three straight on the road in this series and recorded a 4-2 victory when the clubs met in St. Paul on Dec. 1. The Wild returned the favor with a 3-2 win in Phoenix on Dec. 9, but the Coyotes have still taken five of six and six of the last eight overall meetings in the series.
The Coyotes and Wild enter tonight as the 12th and 13th-place teams, respectively, in the Western Conference. With 41 points, Phoenix is just two ahead of the Wild.
Outside of a seven-game winning streak from Nov. 10-23, the Coyotes have struggled with consistency this season. Phoenix’s latest loss, a road setback Friday in St. Louis, dropped the Coyotes to 6-8-2 in their last 16 games.
The Coyotes fell behind 4-0 early in the third period against the Blues on Friday, but were able to put a scare into St. Louis with a late offensive surge. Phoenix wound up losing in regulation anyway, dropping the 4-3 decision at Scottrade Center.
Shane Doan scored two goals for the Coyotes and the team captain is riding a five-game point streak. He has five goals and three assists during the tear. Ilya Bryzgalov allowed all four goals on 22 shots in the setback.
“Our margin for error is very slim,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. “On every given night, you’ve got to try to play as well as you can in all those areas, and right now we’re just not there.”
Although the Coyotes enter tonight’s test with a winning streak in Minnesota, Phoenix has lost five of its last seven road games overall and is 10-8-3 as the guest this season.
The Wild lost for the third time in four games after getting dealt a 4-1 loss Friday against visiting Nashville. Pekka Rinne stopped 22-of-23 shots in the Predators’ win at Xcel Energy Center.
Chuck Kobasew provided the lone goal for the Wild and Niklas Backstrom played well in defeat, giving up two goals on 30 shots.
“I think the spirit’s changing in here. Guys really don’t realize how we have to play night in and night out to be a successful team,” lamented Wild defenseman Greg Zanon. “It’s disappointing when you can’t complete your goals. We need wins, we need points to stay in the mix.”
Minnesota is 1-1-0 on a three-game homestand that is set to end tonight and the Wild are 9-9-2 as the host this season.
Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck missed the last game with an undisclosed injury and he is questionable tonight.