Coyotes have shot at best start in franchise history
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Two of the NHL's six remaining unbeaten teams square off tonight when the Coyotes host the Minnesota Wild at Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes are off to a 3-0-0 start, having already polished off some formidable competition in the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks on the road and the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. The Wild are 2-0-0 on the young season.
If the Coyotes win tonight, it would be the first 4-0-0 start in franchise history.
FOX Sports Arizona will have the television coverage, starting at 6:30 pm.
This will already be the second road-home back-to-back on the Coyotes schedule. Rookie Anthony Duclair's first career hat trick and Mike Smith's first shutout of the season carried the Coyotes to a 4-0 win in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Duclair, a 20-year-old left wing acquired from the New York Rangers last season in the Keith Yandle trade, has scored in all three games (two assists to go with the three goals).
"He had a solid training camp, but the great thing about him is that he's gotten better and better," coach Dave Tippett said. "For young guys, there's lots to learn in camp and lots to take in, and I give really give him credit. His biggest strengths are speed and skill. And on all of his goals, he shot the puck quick."
Like Duclair, rookie Max Domi is off to a superb start. The 20-year-old center and 12th overall pick from the 2013 draft has two goals and two assists so far, getting one of each against the Ducks.
Martin Hanzal leads the Coyotes with six points -- all assists. He matched his career high with three Wednesday.
Arizona has outscored opponents 10-2 through three games and killed off all 11 power plays. San Jose and Edmonton are the only other teams who have not given up a power-play goal.
"We've got a good balance of speed and skill, we're scoring some goals, we're defending hard and playing the right way. And it's paying off for us," Tippett said.
Smith's victory -- his 28th career shutout -- was his 97th as a Coyote, tying him with Sean Burke for fourth on the franchise record list. He has a .981 save percentage, stopping 104 of 106 shots through three games.
Minnesota has produced a pair of one-goal victories and is looking for its first 3-0-0 start since 2008. The Wild haven't played since a 3-2 win over St. Louis on Saturday.
Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle have combined for six of Minnesota's eight goals.
Devan Dubnyk, who revived his career as a backup to Smith last season in Arizona, then led the Wild into the playoffs after a midseason trade, is expected to get a third straight start and his first in Arizona since being traded to the Wild for a draft pick in January.
He played 19 games with the Coyotes last season, going 9-5-2 with a 2.72 goals-against average before becoming a cornerstone for Minnesota, going 27-9-2 with a 1.78 GAA.
Dubnyk feels his limited time in Arizona proved to be valuable.
"Getting to work with (goaltending coach) Sean Burke, he just tightened up my skating, and made me aware of some things that I needed to be sharper on, and was definitely capable of being sharper on," Dubnyk said. "He opened my eyes to it, and really stuck with me on it, and that was a big thing for me at the start of the year last year."