GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Wild still has three games to play after wrapping up its two-game road trip Sunday, but its matchup against the Coyotes at Gila River Arena could easily decide its fate.

With 81 points, the Wild is one shy of Arizona and four behind Colorado for the second wild card berth in the Western Conference.

 

 

“We’re at that point,” center Eric Staal said. “Obviously, [Friday] felt that way as well. We needed to make sure we got the win. We know that Sunday’s going to have that same feel. I’m sure both teams will be really competitive. Hopefully play with the same tenacity throughout our lineup [like Friday] and obviously just come away with the points. That’s all you can do.”

Sunday’s game against the Coyotes matters because of what the Wild did Friday, edging the Golden Knights 3-2 in Vegas. Staal had one of two power play goals, and goalie Devan Dubnyk was strong – making 35 saves.

Overall, it was an effort by the entire group that matched the urgency of the team’s situation.

“We gotta go in there, and we have to play even better than we did [Friday] and come out stronger and that ‘W,’” winger Jason Zucker said.

While the Wild welcomed center Joel Eriksson Ek back to the lineup in Vegas, winger Zach Parise missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury. The team didn’t practice Saturday and didn’t hold a morning skate Sunday, with puck drop in the afternoon, so it’s unclear if Parise will be ready to return against the Coyotes.

Projected lineup:

Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Matt Read

Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin

Ryan Donato-Victor Rask-Kevin Fiala

Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Brad Hunt

Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn

Devan Dubnyk

Key numbers:

8: Goals over the Wild’s last 25 power plays.

19: Road wins for Dubnyk, most in the NHL.

14-5-2: Record for Dubnyk over his past 21 road starts.

13-3-3: How the Wild has fared in its last 19 matchups vs. Arizona.

9-1-1: Showing for the Coyotes over their past 11 home games.

About the Coyotes:

Arizona is 20-12-5 since Jan.6. The Coyotes’ 45 points are the ninth-most in the NHL in that time. Their 14 wins since Feb.9 are tied for the fifth in the league. Former Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper is a major reason why the Coyotes are still battling for a playoff spot; he’s 20-8-6 with a .930 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average since the calendar flipped to 2019. Forwards Brad Richardson and Alex Galchenyuk have a team-high 17 goals, while winger Clayton Keller’s 46 points are tops on the Coyotes.