3/17 PREGAME: Minnesota Wild vs. Arizona Coyotes

The Minnesota Wild have proven can they beat good teams this season. Look no further than their 3-0 season sweep of the Vegas Golden Knights they completed on Friday as evidence.

Now they need to figure out how to beat the league’s worst team: The Arizona Coyotes. Saturday is the third and final meeting of the season between these two clubs.

Maybe the luck of the Irish will help.

The Wild (40-24-7) are 0-1-1 against the Coyotes this season, with a 4-3 overtime loss Feb. 8 in St. Paul after the Wild had a 3-0 lead in the game, and then a 5-3 loss in the desert on March 1. They’re fresh off a season sweep (3-0) of Vegas, a feat no other NHL team has accomplished in the inaugural season for the Golden Knights. The Wild will look to avoid losing all three games to the Coyotes this year.

Matt Cullen leads the Wild with two goals and an assist against Arizona; he has 10 career goals against them. Cullen also has five goals and three assists in his past 13 games overall this season.

The Coyotes (23-36-11) have won six of their last 10 games and are led by rookie forward Clayton Keller’s 19 goals and 51 points. They’re 8-3-1 in their last 12 home games.

Look for Wild goaltender and former Coyote Devan Dubnyk in goal after Alex Stalock played Friday night. Dubnyk has lost his past two starts in search of career victory No. 200. He has 129 wins in a Wild sweater since his trade to Minnesota from Arizona on Jan. 14, 2015. Maybe it’s fitting he has a shot at the milestone win against his former team.

Matt Dumba will skate in his 300th career game Saturday. He scored the third goal for the Wild in Vegas for his 11th of the season, which leads the team defensemen. He has two assists against the Coyotes this season.

Wild points leader Eric Staal has 69 points this season, tied for 21st in the NHL. Charlie Coyle scored his 11th goal of the season against Vegas to push his point streak to five games (3-3—6). He has eight points in his past nine games dating back to Feb. 27.

For the Coyotes, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has at least a point in six of his past seven games, with three goals and three assists in that span. He’s one goal away from career No. 100.

In goal, Antti Raanta will start for the Coyotes for the first time since March 3 after missing time with a lower-body injury. He was in net for the first two wins against the Wild this season.

Former Wild backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper is the back-up for Arizona.

After tonight, the Wild still have two sets of back-to-backs left on the schedule. They’re 4-7-1 on the second night, a worse mark than their 7-5-1 clip on the first night.

The third-place Wild are three points clear of Colorado in the first wild-card position for the playoffs. They’re seven points behind Winnipeg for the second spot.

Injury list:

  • Luke Kunin (ACL tear in left knee), out for season, 5 games
  • Jared Spurgeon (right hamstring tear), out for a minimum of four weeks, 1 game

Total man games lost: 120 games

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