Monday, January 24

Wild aim to get back on track against Coyotes

A fourth consecutive road win makes the Arizona Coyotes believe they are back on track. The key will be to find that same success at home.

As the Coyotes are set to host the Minnesota Wild on Friday, the first of two straight games between the clubs in Glendale, Arizona, it’s an opportunity to put their struggles aside at home. Arizona lost two straight at home to Colorado before clinching a 3-2 road win over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday and is 6-6-3 at home.

“On the road, especially when there are fans, you try to simplify it a bit and put it a little bit more behind them,” said forward Nick Schmaltz, whose second-period goal on Wednesday was the lead count. “We always play hard on the road. I don’t know what it is. We have to try to bring it back home and make Arizona a difficult barn to play in.”

This is the first of eight meetings Friday through April 21 between Wild and Coyotes. Five of them will be completed on March 16.

The Coyotes defeated Los Angeles with a textbook performance off their game plan. They opened the scoring, added a pair of quick goals to make a 3-1 lead and then stayed on the defensive as the Kings pushed for a draw, shooting the Coyotes 18-4 in the third period. Goalkeeper Antti Raanta provided a 40-save performance to close the door.

“I liked something about our game at the beginning,” said coach Rick Tocchet. “And then in the third period, we were holding on. I didn’t like the third period, but it’s a good victory. We will take the victory.”

The Wild come to Arizona after losing a 5-1 game to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. The game that was much closer than the one-sided score would indicate, as Las Vegas goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots, including the 20 that came his way in the third period. Minnesota lost a 5-4 game in overtime in Las Vegas two nights earlier.

“Obviously, the results of both games we wanted to be different,” captain Jared Spurgeon said. “At the same time, we are worried about ourselves. That’s a good team there, but we are worried about our game and I don’t think the scoreboard really shows what the game was like. I think it was much closer” until the end there.

“I think as a group, we have to keep working and fine-tuning our game. We have to make the teams react to us and not worry about them.”

Before heading to Las Vegas, the Wilds were on a six-game winning streak, so their confidence is unaffected.

“We can’t get off course with these tough losses,” said winger Marcus Foligno, who scored Minnesota’s only goal in Wednesday’s loss and has five goals in the last six games. “We have to understand that we are a great hockey team.”

That mindset, they believe, will be a big part of bouncing back in the win column.

“We definitely liked a lot of parts of our game,” said Wild’s coach Dean Evason, who will likely return veteran forward Zach Parise to the lineup after having a hot streak. “I think at the end of the day, the chances will be very close, if not better for us. We just didn’t finish (Wednesday), but our effort was there, and we did a lot of good things.”

– Field level media

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