The Minnesota Wild will try to match the longest point streak in franchise history on Sunday night when they face the Arizona Coyotes in Tempe, Ariz.
The Wild extended their point streak to 12 games (10-0-2), the longest active streak in the NHL and the second longest in franchise history, with a 5-2 victory at San Jose on Saturday night. The franchise record is 13 games set in 2016-17.
The win over the Sharks kept second-place Minnesota two points behind Dallas in the Central Division. It also marked the first time since a 6-5 overtime loss at Buffalo on Jan. 7 that the Wild scored five goals in a game.
Mats Zuccarello, Matt Boldy, Marcus Johansson and Jared Spurgeon each had a goal and an assist, and Ryan Hartman added two assists to back another strong goaltending performance by Marc-Andre Fleury. He finished with 35 saves, including 18 in the first period, when the Wild managed just five shots on goal.
“They obviously came out with a lot of jump,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “We didn’t handle it real well at the start. Obviously, (Fleury) kept us in the hockey game and made some incredible saves to allow us to get our legs under us and maybe more so our minds straight. When we started playing the way we’re supposed to play and we know we can play, it got better and better.”
Fleury is 5-0-0 in his last five starts with a 1.38 goals-against and a .956 save percentage, allowing two or fewer goals in all five contests.
The timing of the offensive outburst couldn’t have been better for the Wild, who were playing their first game since an injury to top scorer Kirill Kaprizov in a win at Winnipeg on Wednesday. Kaprizov leads the team with 39 goals and 74 points and is expected to miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury.
Evason credits his team’s defensive game for its point streak.
“It wasn’t that great tonight, but that’s probably been our signature here of late,” he said. “It needs to be moving forward. Although we scored a few goals tonight, we didn’t defend as well as we can and have. We need to get back to that.”
Arizona has a four-game point streak (2-0-2) but comes in off a 3-2 overtime loss against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Saturday.
Jack McBain and Clayton Keller scored to give the Coyotes a 2-1 first-period lead. Nathan MacKinnon tied it at the 11:25 mark of the second period, but Arizona, despite being outshot 18-0 in the third period, picked up a point by getting the contest into overtime when Cale Makar scored the game-winner.
Connor Ingram finished with 41 saves.
“The guys fought really hard,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “Really good team, they got an unbelievable push in the second half of the game. I think we hung in there. (Ingram) made the difference, but I think we blocked a lot of shots, we fought around the net, we cleared the net for rebounds and stuff like that.”
Right wing Christian Fischer, who has 11 goals and 13 assists this season, left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.
“He’s an important player,” Tourigny said. “He can play against anybody in the league and skate, and he has a veteran presence. So it’s a big loss, but it’s lower-body and he’ll be day-to-day for now.”
This is the fourth meeting between the two teams this season, with all three of the previous contests being decided by one goal. Minnesota won 4-3 and 2-1 on their home ice in Saint Paul while the Coyotes won the most recent meeting on Feb. 6 in Tempe, 3-2.
–Field Level Media