Arizona Coyotes vs. Minnesota Wild Pick & Prediction MARCH 7th 2024

Led by the red-hot Kirill Kaprizov, the Minnesota Wild will continue to battle toward a playoff spot when they visit the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday in Tempe, Ariz.

The Wild broke a three-game skid (0-3-0) by beating the visiting San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Sunday, though it was hardly a flawless performance.

Minnesota had to come back from two deficits after turnovers led to all three of San Jose goals, but Kaprizov was the difference-maker. The star forward scored a hat trick, including the game-winning goal at 16:01 of the third period.

The Wild scored only four goals during their three-game slump, but coach John Hynes stressed the concept of “hard skill” and all-around offensive play in Sunday’s game.

“That’s how you can produce offense regularly, but it’s also the effort and the style of the game that gives you a chance to win,” Hynes said.

Kaprizov leads the Wild in points (66) and goals (29). After a relatively slow start to the season, Kaprizov has 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) in his last 27 games.

That surge has helped Minnesota amass an 8-4-1 record since the All-Star break. Since the Wild still have a lot of ground to make up in their quest for a postseason spot, Minnesota can’t afford to leave points on the table against struggling teams like the Sharks or Coyotes.

After a nightmarish 14-game (0-12-2) stretch, Arizona had seemingly found a groove with consecutive wins heading into Tuesday’s game with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, the Blackhawks went 4-for-5 on the power play in a 5-2 victory, leaving forward Coyotes forward Nick Bjugstad frustrated.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the (penalty) box this year, and it’s cost us. … I’m guilty, we’re all guilty in this room of taking penalties,” Bjugstad said. “I thought, the third period, we didn’t put up much of a fight as far as pushback. And it’s just not an acceptable effort.”

Both the Coyotes and the Wild have been hampered by leaky penalty-kill units and a lack of discipline. The two teams rank near the bottom of the NHL in both penalty-kill percentage (Arizona 76.3, Minnesota 74.5) and penalty minutes (Arizona 735, Minnesota 712).

Since the Wild also play on Friday in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche, goaltenders Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury will probably split the two starts in some order.

The Coyotes also have a back-to-back looming, as the Detroit Red Wings visit on Friday. Connor Ingram and Karel Vejmelka are likely to start one game apiece.

The goaltending mix might be one of more relatively stable parts of the Coyotes’ roster heading into the NHL’s trade deadline on Friday. Jason Zucker was held out of Tuesday’s lineup due to a potential trade, and the Coyotes could look to deal multiple veterans as they build for the future.

Clayton Keller leads the Coyotes with 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists).

Thursday’s game is the third of four regular-season meetings between Minnesota and Arizona, and the away team has won the first two. The Coyotes won 6-0 in Saint Paul on Jan. 13, and the Wild returned the favor 3-1 in their previous trip to Tempe on Feb. 14.

–Field Level Media

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