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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, November 27th (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (14-6-4) at Minnesota Wild (15-6-4), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - One of the hotter teams in November, the Minnesota Wild will have to trudge on without their leading scorer.
The Wild won't have forward Zach Parise for the next handful of games, beginning with Wednesday night's showdown with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Parise is expected to be sidelined for the next 2-to-3 weeks with a foot contusion suffered when he blocked a shot in Monday's 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. The forward has 11 goals and leads Minnesota with 22 points.
The 29-year-old will miss his first games since signing with Minnesota in July of 2012, having played in 73 straight games, but both player and club acknowledged it could have been worse.
"It's disappointing to lose Zach for any amount of time, but when you look at the number of foot injuries that you see, it very easily could have been the 4-to-6-week scenario, and then you're talking 15 or 20 games," general manager Chuck Fletcher told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "So as crazy at it sounds, we're actually fairly pleased."
The Wild are less pleased with the outcome of Monday's game as the club was shut out for the first time this season. Minnesota also suffered just its second regulation loss of the month (9-2-1).
Niklas Backstrom made 18 saves in the loss.
"We got behind the eight-ball and it's tough to come back in this league," Wild forward Jason Pominville said. "They're a tough team to play against anyway, but when they get the lead, it makes it even tougher."
In addition to losing Parise, the Wild played on Monday without netminder Josh Harding, who suffered a lower-body injury during warmups on Saturday. Harding has 13 wins on the season, is second in the league with a 1.48 goals against average and third with a .939 save percentage.
Harding's status for this game is unknown, so Backstrom is likely to get the start and is 13-9-0 with a 2.19 GAA in 22 career meetings with the Coyotes.
Minnesota is also hopeful that forward Mikael Granlund can return from a two- game absence caused by an upper-body ailment.
The Coyotes are dealing with an injury to their leading goal-scorer in Shane Doan, who did not finish Monday's 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators due to a lower-body injury. Doan leads Phoenix with eight goals and is second with 19 points.
The 37-year-old captain did not practice on Tuesday, but has not been ruled out for this game.
"It's nothing serious," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett told his team's website. "It's just we don't want it to get worse."
Phoenix fell behind 3-0 in the first period versus Nashville and got second- period tallies from Antoine Vermette and Tim Kennedy, but could not come back. Mike Smith yielded three goals on 28 shots in the Coyotes' third straight loss.
"We have to get ourselves back in the game before we get embarrassed," said Tippett. "Some of the guys are getting beat 1-on-1 too much and that's not good."
Smith is 4-5-1 with a 2.03 GAA and two shutouts in 10 previous meetings with the Wild, including eight starts.
The Coyotes lost the final two of three meetings last season with the Wild, but have won five of their past seven in Minnesota.
11/27 10:51:41 ET
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