Wild backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the start Saturday against Arizona.
Kuemper, who hasn’t played since Nov. 29, will give Devan Dubnyk a day of rest while trying to keep the Wild’s win streak intact.
“I’m playing [Saturday], so I’m looking forward to the start,” Kuemper said after Friday’s practice at Xcel Energy Center. “It’s awesome watching all the success [Dubnyk is] having and all the success the team is having. It’s fun coming to the rink right now and I’m excited to get the chance to contribute to it.”
It's Jason Gonzalez subbing in for Russo (delayed flight) today at the X.
The Wild has won six in a row overall, five in a row at home and has gotten at least a point from 11 of its past 12 games (8-1-3). The Wild is 8-1-2 in the last 11 meetings against Arizona, including a current eight-game point streak.
Dubnyk, a former Coyote, is a career-best 8-0-2 in his past 10 starts with a 1.65 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. But Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday, “Dubs isn’t going to play 75 games this year. We’ve got to give [Kuemper] an opportunity to get back in there and play.”
Boudreau didn’t reveal Kemper would start in goal, however, saying “it’s crossed our minds” and “we’re going to talk it over a little more.”
Kuemper is 2-2-1 this season and hasn’t won since Nov. 13 at Ottawa. The Wild is 6-0-1 since Kuemper played in the 5-4 loss in Vancouver.
The Coyotes have won three of their past four after a six-game losing streak.
Defenseman Ryan Suter was outstanding for the Wild in Thursday night’s 5-2 victory at Nashville and got booed by Predators fans nearly every time he touched the puck. The former Predators star was plus-2 and he's plus-19 this year to lead the NHL. In the past 23 games, he has had only two minus games.
Boudreau said, “Especially [Thursday] in the third period or when things got a little ragged, to put [Suter] out there and to settle things down I thought was really good. He had a really good game.”
Fresher legs might have something to do with Suter’s success this season, though he’s not paying attention to his average ice time. He has topped 30 minutes twice this season and the four previous seasons with the Wild he played 30-plus minutes in 92 games.
“The biggest thing is other guys are playing more and playing better and that is definitely good for the team. I haven’t really thought about [my ice time],” Suter said before eventually concluding, “This is the best I’ve felt probably in my career.”
Here is what you should know about Arizona:
Mike Smith has made 40 or more saves in five of his last 10 starts. Since returning from a left leg injury in mid-November, Smith has stopped 477 of 510 shots (.935 save percentage).
The Coyotes allow a league-high 35.8 shots per game and their minus-7.5 shot differential is the worst in the NHL.
The Coyotes have the NHL's best home penalty-killing unit at 93.3 percent, but the league's 29th ranked road PK at 71.2 percent.
Shane Doan needs one goal for career No. 400.