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The Wild Beat

Wild seeking first win of the season vs. Coyotes

A night after clinching a season sweep of the Golden Knights via a 4-2 win, the Wild will try to avoid dropping its third and final matchup to the Coyotes Saturday when the team concludes a back-to-back in Arizona.

The Coyotes defeated the Wild 4-3 in overtime in Minnesota Feb. 8 and more recently 5-3 March 1 on home ice.



“They’ve played really well,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Coyotes. “The first game we had a 3-0 lead on them and then all of a sudden when the emotions start going, we couldn’t stop it. It was like a runaway train. Last game I thought again for two periods we played almost perfect hockey, and a few mistakes in the third period that ended up costing us. Those are three big points we’ve lost against this team, but you gotta give them credit.

“ … They’re giving every team they play all they can handle. It’s up to us to forget about last night and get back up emotionally and play the game we’re capable of playing.”

Friday was certainly a feel-good effort by the Wild; not only did it secure its third win of the season against the Golden Knights in its first trip to Nevada, but Las Vegas native Jason Zucker had a memorable performance with a goal and an assist.

“You can be excited about a good win in Vegas,” Boudreau said. “But at the same time, you have to string points together if you want to solidify your spot in the playoffs.”

Projected lineup:

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund

Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Nino Niederreiter

Tyler Ennis-Matt Cullen-Charlie Coyle

Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Daniel Winnik

Ryan Suter-Matt Dumba

Gustav Olofsson-Jonas Brodin

Nick Seeler-Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Key numbers:

199: Career wins for goalie Devan Dubnyk.

300: Games for defenseman Matt Dumba.

11-2-3: The Wild’s record against the Coyotes in their last 16 meetings.

2-0: Arizona’s record against the Wild this season.

7: Points for rookie Clayton Keller in his last eight games.

About the Coyotes:

Since the calendar flipped to 2018, the Coyotes have been drastically better than they were at the start of the season when they debuted 0-10-1. They’re 14-9-6 in 2018 and are 11-4-2 in their last 17 games. Since Feb. 8, Arizona has given up 38 goals – which is the second-fewest in the NHL. The team has been especially successful on home ice lately, going 8-3-1 in its last 12 games at Gila River Arena. Hastings native Derek Stepan has a team-high 29 points in 37 home games.

Support from Wild fans in Vegas put team 'over the top'

It’s unclear just how many of the announced 18,295 in attendance Friday at T-Mobile Arena were cheering on the visitors, but they sure made their presence known.

And the Wild sensed that vocal support, with coach Bruce Boudreau acknowledging it as a factor in the team’s 4-2 win over the Golden Knights.

“I’ve never been involved in something where the visiting crowd, there was so many of them,” Boudreau said. “I couldn’t believe how many people made this trip. Kudos to them, and thanks for putting us over the top.”

The sizeable contingent of Wild fans who took in the action added to an already over-the-top atmosphere inside the arena. Word had circulated that games in Vegas were a unique experience, and the Wild’s first trip lived up to that hype.

It was loud and entertaining – like a hybrid of a sporting event and a Las Vegas show. And the boisterous vibe was only enhanced by the dueling cheers from the Wild faithful and the locals.

“A lot of energy, and it’s pretty cool the way they do it here,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “I thought they brought a lot of energy tonight in their game ops and all that, and our Wild fans who traveled out here – it was pretty cool to have fans come all this way and support us and obviously enjoy Vegas.

“But to have that support here, it’s pretty cool. To see Wild fans walking around on the Strip yesterday when we got in, it’s just a cool atmosphere to be around and that’s where you want to play is a place that has fans that are that loyal and make the trip and make it fun.”

Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Golden Knights.

  • After commemorating his first NHL game in his hometown Las Vegas with a two-point effort that included a goal, winger Jason Zucker is just one shy of reaching 30 for the first time in his career.

“To come out and score that first goal in front of his home crowd,” Boudreau said, “and not too many people ever are going to be able to say that – for a while anyway – that they scored in front of their home crowd in Vegas.”

  • While the Wild has struggled to slow down a speedy team like the Avalanche, it’s had no problem with another quick group in the Golden Knights.

What seemed to work best Friday was the Wild’s pursuit of the puck, as its work ethic outshined Vegas.

“I was really proud of them tonight,” Boudreau said. “It goes to show that when they put their mind to it, they can play. This was something against a really good hockey team, really fast team, that we did a good job.”

  • As has been the trend in recent wins, the performance flattered the whole team.

Overall, 10 different players tallied at least a point.

“We were skating really well,” center Eric Staal said. “We checked them well, took their time and space away and if you do that, for us against any team it’s beneficial. Hopefully we can carry that into tomorrow.”

8:00 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 40-24-7
Arizona 23-36-11

NHL Scoreboard

  • Chicago



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