Karel Vejmelka stole the win for the Arizona Coyotes (5-15-2) Monday night, turning aside 46 shots in a 1-0 shutout over the Winnipeg Jets. Despite being outhit, outshot, and losing more faceoffs, the Coyotes gutted out a win.
Can they do it again when they take on the first-place Minnesota Wild (14-6-1) in a Central Division collision on Tuesday?
Puck drop is at 8:00 PM Eastern on ESPN+ and locally on Bally Sports Arizona.
Arizona Coyotes Preview
Vejmelka was Arizona’s first, second, and third star on Monday, earning his first career shutout, and he’s looking like a star on the rise. In his last two games, Vejmelka has stopped 83-of-84 shots against, but he’s had to be near-perfect. The Coyotes won each of his last two starts but scored a total of three goals over those two contests.
“Thank God we had (Vejmelka),” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said after Monday’s win. “Veji was rock-solid and the guys on the (penalty kill) came up big … It’s fun to win the game that way because our PK had been challenged early in the season.”
Antoine Roussel scored his third goal of the season, moving him into a tie for fourth on the team in goals. Travis Boyd, Lawson Crouse, and Clayton Keller lead the team with five goals each.
Arizona last played Minnesota on November 10 and lost 5-2. After going 1-7-0 against Minnesota last season, the Coyotes will need another solid effort Tuesday to come away with the win.
While the Coyotes could turn things back to Vejmelka on Tuesday, it’s more likely he gets the night off, and Scott Wedgewood gets the call in net. This season, Wedgewood has a 3-5-2 record, along with a 2.65 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
Johan Larsson remains in COVID-19 protocol and will likely miss Tuesday’s game. Jay Beagle is still a few days off from returning to the lineup while dealing with a knee injury.
Minnesota Wild Preview
The Wild are coming in red-hot as winners of three straight games, and they’re 6-3-1 in their last ten games. Whether playing from ahead or behind, the Wild are a constant threat to score. This season, they’ve scored 26 goals in the third period (which has also been their-highest scoring frame), tied for fifth-most in the league.
Kirill Kaprizov leads the Wild in points (six goals, 17 assists) and set a franchise record for most points through the first 20 games of a season (22). Arizona will also need to watch out for Ryan Hartman, whose team-leading 12 goals already account for the second-highest season total in his career.
Cam Talbot is likely to start between the pipes for Minnesota. Talbot is 12-5-0 this season with a 2.71 GAA, and a .914 save percentage.
Wild captain Jared Spurgeon is out with a lower-body injury that should keep him sidelined for several more weeks. Mats Zuccarello, who plays on Kaprizov’s opposite wing, did not play Sunday against Tampa Bay and is questionable for Tuesday’s NHL game.
Odds and Predictions
Moneyline: Arizona Coyotes (+300) at Minnesota Wild (-400)
Puckline: Arizona Coyotes +1.5 goals (+115) at Minnesota Wild -1.5 goals (-135)
Total: Over 5.5 goals (-125), Under 5.5 goals (+105)
Minnesota has undoubtedly had Arizona’s number over the past two seasons. The Wild are also 7-2-0 at home this season, and coming off a big 4-2 win against Tampa Bay on Sunday, it will be a tall order for Arizona to win this one.
Without Zuccarello and Spurgeon, the Wild power play hasn’t been as productive, and they definitely miss Spurgeon on the back end. While Arizona may keep this one close, the Wild puck line seems like the smart play here.
Betting Pick: Minnesota Wild puck line (-135).