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Arizona Coyotes at Minnesota Wild preview: One slump will end

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Arizona Coyotes (20-18-2) at Minnesota Wild (17-19-5)

Starting Time/Venue: 6 p.m. MST at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN

In a Central Division rivalry battle, the Arizona Coyotes officially arrive at the halfway mark of their season when they face the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Last time out, Arizona were blown out by the Calgary Flames 6-2 on Thursday, and have lost four of their past five games.

Committing multiple turnovers, Arizona fell behind 3-0 early before Yegor Sharangovich completed his second hat-trick of his career later on.

Lawson Crouse scored his 17th goal of the season (team high) in the defeat. Clayton Keller added the other.

The Coyotes have not taken the lead in a first period throughout their 1-4 slump, struggling to consistently start games on-time.

But not only is Arizona going through a problematic stretch, Minnesota has been even worse lately.

Going 1-6-1 in their last eight games, the Wild are severely missing their superstar Kirill Kaprizov. Suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 30, Kaprizov still remains the leader in points for Minnesota (34).

During this span, the Wild have only scored 14 goals, missing the key cog that makes their offense tick. They are 25th in goals-for in the NHL with 118 this season.

Minnesota are riding on a three-game losing streak as they were crushed twice by the Dallas Stars 4-0 and 7-2 this week. That was before they fell 4-3 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers last night.

Not only has Kaprizov’s absence proved to be detrimental for the Wild while on the attack, but their penalty kill has severely been an Achilles heel for them. Currently, they own the third-worst penalty kill in the league (72.7%).

For the first time since leaving in the offseason, Coyotes defenseman Matt Dumba will return to Minnesota after spending a decade of his career there. Dumba played 598 games, scored 79 goals and had 157 assists for 236 points as a member of the Wild.

As both teams look to evade their separate skids, only one will snap out of theirs while the other encounters uncertainty and questions will be asked on what is next.

History

In franchise history, the Coyotes are 33-43-3-4 against the Wild. A season ago, Arizona were 2-2-0 in a four-game series with Minnesota.

Kaprizov had a three-point night (goal, two assists) to help the Wild beat Arizona 4-3 on Nov. 27, 2022.

Then, Mats Zuccarello tapped in the eventual game-winner in a 2-1 Minnesota victory on Jan. 14, 2023.

Going 0-2 in St. Paul, former Coyote Jakob Chychrun scored twice in a 3-2 win for Arizona.

And to finish the season matchup on Mar. 12, Barrett Hayton registered two goals and two assists for the Coyotes as they beat the Wild 5-4 in overtime.

Key Stats

Goals

Coyotes – LW Lawson Crouse: 17

Wild – C Joel Eriksson Ek: 15

Assists

Coyotes – LW Matias Maccelli: 22

Wild – RW Mats Zuccarello: 24

Points

Coyotes – RW Clayton Keller: 35 (15 goals, 20 assists)

Wild – LW Kirill Kaprizov: 34 (13 goals, 21 assists)

Injuries

Arizona Coyotes: C Barrett Hayton (upper body – IR), C Vladislav Kolyachonok (lower body – IR), C Travis Boyd (upper body – IR)

Minnesota Wild: D Jonas Brodin (upper body – IR), LW Kirill Kaprizov (upper body – IR), D Jared Spurgeon (lower body – IR),  C Vinni Lettieri (lower body – IR)

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Alec Cipollini is a reporter of the Arizona Coyotes and Cardinals for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account @AlecCipollini

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