Beware Of Dogs: Minnesota Wild vs. Phoenix Coyotes Preview

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2010

DALLAS - JANUARY 18:  Martin Havlat #14 of the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center on January 18, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Minnesota will look to win their third straight as the Coyotes come to St. Paul to face the Wild.

Minnesota has fallen the last three times they've faced Phoenix, who have risen up this season under new coach Dave Tippet and have put themselves in position to contend in the playoffs later this spring.

Phoenix comes into tonight's game with 77 points, and if the Coyotes win, they will tie their season point total from last year.

With more than 20 games remaining in the season, that is plenty of time to grab some breathing room, or stall and fall apart.

Minnesota is clawing back into playoff position, sitting only five points behind eighth place Calgary.

A win tonight would put Minnesota in a tie with Dallas for 10th place and would be a nice confidence booster for a team needing every point it can get.

The Wild's final two games before the Olympic break will be at home against Atlanta on Friday and Vancouver on Sunday.

Minnesota is one of five teams in the Western Conference with 20 wins or more at home this season, and every advantage will help.

More good news for the Wild, as goaltender Niklas Backstrom will start tonight after missing five games with an injury and illness.

Chuck Kobasew skated at practice today as well, but he is not expected back until after the Olympic break, according to Glen Andresen of

Head coach Todd Richards said before the start of the current homestand that Minnesota would have to secure at least eight points to have a chance at a playoff spot, and so far so good.

The Wild have dressed Derek Boogaard tonight which means John Scott and James Sheppard will be healthy scratches.