Sun, 09 May 2021

Coyotes feeling pressure in finale vs. Wild

Field Level Media
21 Apr 2021, 07:05 GMT+10

With the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche in their division -- one of which likely will be their first-round opponent -- the Minnesota Wild know the NHL playoffs won't be easy.

That's why they're already trying to get into the postseason mindset.

The Wild (28-13-3, 59 points), who play Wednesday night against the host Arizona Coyotes (20-21-5, 45 points), have won four consecutive games to build a sizable lead over the teams -- Arizona and St. Louis -- battling for fourth place in the West Division.

The Wild won the opener of the two-game series against the Coyotes 5-2 Monday as Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot stopped 22 shots.

"Right now we're clicking, but I don't even think we're at our peak yet. There's some lulls in our game that we can figure out," Wild forward Marcus Foligno said. "But we're just trying to fine-tune it and get ready before playoffs start. Right now, that's the main goal the last couple of games here.

"I just love our balance, our depth. It's huge right now for our success. It's something that you can rely on come playoffs."

Kirill Kaprizov, Jordan Greenway and Marcus Johansson also scored for the Wild, with Greenway getting his first goal in 22 games.

Wild coach Dean Evason said the key for his team is to "just keep building."

"Just keep putting them together and keep playing, just keep building and doing the right things every night to set ourselves up to have success," Evason said. "It's a constant learning game. There's no perfect game, there's going to be turnovers, and honestly, that's what we talked to the group about this morning.

"We get that there's gonna be turnovers. Just limit them in those key areas. When we got up 3-1 (Monday), we challenged the group to do the right things, and for the most part we did."

The Coyotes, who have a one-point edge on St. Louis for the fourth and final playoff berth in the division, had a four-game home winning streak snapped Monday.

"I thought we had a lot of looks (Monday), to be honest," said Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski, who scored to extend his point streak to four games. "We're not bearing down and finishing plays. I think (the) game went a lot like the previous four or five games. We're playing pretty good hockey; it's just the chances we're giving up are big ones and the other teams are converting."

The Coyotes' Christian Fischer scored his first goal of the season, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 19 shots.

"It's nice to score," Fischer said. "To be honest, it really hasn't been crushing me or on my mind that much. I've done a lot of good things with my game. I've found a way to impact the game in other ways. I love scoring, and it's nice to get one. Obviously, it would have been nice to have gotten the win."

The Coyotes are 1-6-0 against Minnesota heading into Wednesday's game, the last between the teams in the regular season.

"This next game is massive for us," Fischer said. "I know it's cliche, but it's the biggest game of the year. We've got to find a way. We've got to find a way to lock down and give ourselves the best chance to win."

--Field Level Media

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