When Nashville's Dan Ellis lost his first two starts back after being sidelined by a leg injury for a week, coach Barry Trotz said it was understandable if the goaltender was concerned about losing the job to his backup.
But after posting a shutout in his last outing, Ellis looks to show he's continuing to rebound from an uneven start when he and the Predators visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
Ellis, who won 23 games in 2007-08, is 9-11-3 this season with a 2.78 goals-against average. He had particularly struggled recently, going 1-4-2 before recording 27 saves in Nashville's 3-0 win over Dallas on Saturday, which snapped the Predators' (15-12-3) three-game losing streak.
"My win-loss record stinks," Ellis said. "The last few games have been frustrating for our team because we were playing strong and we didn't get anything out of it or we only got one point.
"I have to find ways to help the team and contribute a little bit more. I might have had some decent games, but I wasn't helping in terms of the standings. It's nice to be able to get two points, especially on home ice."
Saturday's shutout came after Pekka Rinne had stepped in during Ellis' absence and went 4-1-0 with a 1.99 GAA, seeming to give Trotz a possible goaltending controversy.
"Dan has had some games where he has played well and didn't get the win," said Trotz. "Plus, he got dinged up and Pekka Rinne came in and was goaltender of the week. You always get nervous when that happens.
"But Dan has played very solid since he has come back, and the same can be said of Pekka. From our standpoint, we have both goaltenders going in the right direction and where we want them to be."
Trotz is also trying to get the offense back on track after it has averaged 1.8 goals in their last five games. Jason Arnott, who has a team-leading 13 goals, has been held without one in the last six games.
Arnott has a good chance at snapping that drought against a team he's performed well against. He has a 10-game point streak against the Coyotes, scoring five goals and adding 11 assists during that stretch.
Phoenix (14-13-4), meanwhile, is trying to avoid a third straight loss. It's dropped its last two after regulation, falling 5-4 in a shootout to Detroit on Saturday, then suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to Dallas on Tuesday.
Todd Fedoruk scored in the third period to tie the game but Ilya Bryzgalov gave up a game-winner 3:39 into overtime. The Coyotes didn't have one shot on goal in the extra period and were 0-for-4 on the power play.
"We didn't bury opportunities," left wing Shane Doan said. "Give them credit. But we've got to find ways to win."
Phoenix was 2-1-1 against the Predators last season and is 9-4-1 at home against them since the 2000-01 season. Doan, who leads the Coyotes with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists), has two goals and two assists in his last four games against Nashville.
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