Wild-Coyotes Preview

BY foxsports • February 5, 2011

Posted: February 5, 2011 11:25 a.m. CT

STATS Senior Writer

The Minnesota Wild continue to excel on the road while the Phoenix Coyotes have been awful at home lately.

The Wild hope those trends continue Saturday night when they try to hand the Coyotes a sixth straight home loss.

These teams both have 59 points, but there's a stark contrast in the Wild's road play and the Coyotes' performances at home.

Minnesota (27-19-5) is 11-3-1 on the road since a 3-2 victory at Phoenix (25-19-9) on Dec. 9. The Wild lead the NHL with 23 points in that span, during which their goalies have produced a league-best .934 save percentage.

Phoenix's 25 points at home are tied for the second-fewest in the Western Conference. The Coyotes last lost six straight at home Jan. 27-Feb. 16, 2009.

Minnesota's surge continued with a 4-3 win at Colorado on Thursday. Kyle Brodziak and Andrew Brunette scored in a 61-second span to start the game for the Wild, who have scored first in all 15 of their road wins.

"It would have been nice to be 3-0," said Brunette, who finished with two goals. "2-0, sometimes it's a tough lead to play in when you get them that early. I mean, you'd rather get the two than two against."

Niklas Backstrom was rested as backup Jose Theodore came through with 38 saves for Minnesota, which has won three straight and six of seven overall.

Phoenix blew a three-goal lead in a 5-3 loss at San Jose at Tuesday before returning home and falling 6-0 to Vancouver on Wednesday. The Coyotes were outshot 33-23 by the Canucks.

"You'd think after getting our butt kicked last night that we'd jump back in a little stronger," coach Dave Tippett said. "If you want to call it hangover, those are your words, not mine, but we have some things to straighten out."

After seeing his team yield 11 straight goals, Tippett focused on his team's defensive play Thursday in practice.

"You have to try and forget about it as quick as you can," center Eric Belanger told the Coyotes' official website. "What's done is done. We have to learn from that game and move on as quick as we can."

Brunette has four goals and an assist and Mikko Koivu six assists to help the Wild win their last two against the Coyotes. They were held to a total of six points in the previous five meetings, all won by Phoenix.

Backstrom began his career by posting a 1.13 goals-against average in winning his first eight starts against the Coyotes. He's 2-5-0 with a 3.18 GAA in his last seven against them.

Theodore is 1-1-0 with a 4.03 GAA in two starts versus Phoenix this season.

Ilya Bryzgalov has a 4.37 GAA while starting every game of this home skid, and he's 5-2-0 with a 2.58 GAA in his last seven games against the Wild. Jason LaBarbera is 1-0-1 with a 3.97 GAA in two outings against Minnesota this season.

Defenseman Ed Jovanovski is day-to-day after missing Thursday's practice while center Vernon Fiddler remains out for Phoenix. Both have upper-body injuries.