Opposite ends of the NHL’s Central Division will meet Wednesday when the Minnesota Wild head to the desert to face the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale.
On a three-game winning streak, following a four-game winning run to open the season, the Wild are on an offensive roll with five goals in each of the last three victories, including one overtime and one shootout win. The Wild entered play Tuesday in first place in the Central.
Minnesota is coming off a 5-2 victory at home Sunday over the New York Islanders when they erupted for four goals in the final 13-plus minutes of the game. Ryan Hartman scored the game-tying goal at 7:17 of the third period and added an assist on Brandon Duhaime’s go-ahead goal two minutes later.
“It’s stressful going into that third period, but at the same time, we’ve done it so many times that it almost feels normal at this rate,” Duhaime said. “It just shows the resilience in the group, and we stick together until the end.”
The victory for the never-say-die Wild came one day after they went to an extra attacker in the final 3:19 of regulation at Pittsburgh and rallied with two goals to tie the game before winning in the shootout. Hartman tied Saturday’s game 4-4 on a goal with three seconds to spare.
Sunday’s rally against the Islanders was tame by comparison.
“We really stayed the course and we talked about this game before being a measuring type of stick for us,” Wild head coach Dean Evason said of Sunday’s victory over the Islanders. “… We did some things that mirrored them a little bit. So I think if you can do that, we put ourselves in a good spot.”
The last-place Coyotes are off to a brutal start, going winless in their first 11 games. But they will enter off Saturday’s 5-4 victory at home over the expansion Seattle Kraken.
The slump-buster victory looked somewhat familiar, even if the opponent had never been in the league until this season. Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood, claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils on Friday, was in goal for the victory. He was also in goal for Arizona to end an 11-game winless streak to open the 2017 season.
Wedgewood had 27 saves in Saturday’s victory while playing his first game in a Coyotes uniform since Feb. 13, 2018. Lawson Crouse scored two third-period goals, including the game winner with 1:05 to play, while Johan Larsson had the assist on both Crouse goals.
“At some point you say, ‘OK, we’re playing well,’ but it gets heavy mentally,” Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny said. “So, I was looking at the players and they put their hearts in it, and they invest themselves in it and they have nothing to show for it. … For the players to stay with it, dig in and believe in the process — believe in themselves, trust in each other — that was huge.”
The Wild were atop the Central on Tuesday thanks to a plus-one goal differential. The Coyotes are easily the worst in the NHL with a minus-30 differential.
–Field Level Media
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