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Coyotes, Predators aim to get back on track

Thursday, 03.25.2010 / 7:00 PM

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

COYOTES (46-23-5) at PREDTORS (42-27-5)

Last 10
-- Phoenix 9-1-0; Nashville 7-3-0

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season, with Nashville still looking for its first victory. Phoenix won 4-2 at home on Jan. 21 and 1-0 in a shootout on Feb. 2, with defenseman Adrian Aucoin getting the deciding goal in the 10th round on the first attempt of his career.

Big story -- All good things have to come to an end, and so it was for both the Coyotes and Predators on Tuesday. Phoenix saw its nine-game winning streak end with a 2-0 loss at Chicago; combined with San Jose's 4-1 win at Minnesota, the Coyotes fell one point behind San Jose for the Pacific Division lead. The Predators had won six in a row before Dallas came to town and left with a 3-1 victory despite getting only 14 shots on Pekka Rinne.

Team Scope:

Coyotes -- The Coyotes did a lot of things right in Chicago -- except score. That was enough to end their franchise record-tying nine-game winning streak and drop them to second place in their division. Still, the nine-game streak has the 'Yotes thinking of more than just breaking a playoff drought that extends back to 2002.

"Teams like Chicago and San Jose, a month ago they were out of reach for us, so we know that we've played some good hockey," Aucoin said.

Predators -- Despite their six-game winning streak, the Predators have little wiggle room as they try to avoid being the odd man out in a five-way scramble for the last four spots in the Western Conference playoff race. Against Dallas, they paid for a third-period lapse that saw the Stars score twice in 30 seconds and Rinne make just 11 saves.

"You have to have a short-term memory, and the biggest game of the year is coming up now," said coach Barry Trotz, who led Nashville to the third-longest winning streak in its history.

Who's hot -- Despite Tuesday's loss, Rinne is 6-1-0 with three shutouts in his last seven games. He is 8-2-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average, .927 save percentage in 10 games this month.

Injury report -- Phoenix center Robert Lang hasn't played since March 4 due to a lower-body injury. … Nashville captain Jason Arnott may miss a third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. That would be a loss for the Predators -- Arnott has 54 points in 54 career games against the Coyotes. Forward Joel Ward (upper-body injury) didn't play Tuesday and is likely to sit this one out as well.

Stat pack -- Aucoin, who had never taken a shootout try before the Coyotes' last trip to Nashville, is 5-for-5 -- and all five goals have been game-deciders. Phoenix has just five losses in its last 22 games, but three of those defeats were shutouts. … Nashville is 0-for-11 on the power play in its last three games and has scored just once goal in each of its last two -- the Predators beat Columbus 1-0 in OT on Saturday night.

Puck drop -- The Coyotes are all but assured of making the playoffs for the first time since '02; they're playing for the top spot in the Pacific Division and a higher seed in the West. The Predators have no such assurance -- they'll need every points they can get to return to the postseason after missing in 2008-09. But Nashville will have to show more desperation than it did against Dallas in order to beat one of the NHL's stingiest teams.

2009-2010 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 07 '10NSH 2 at PHX 5T. Pyatt
Mar 25 '10PHX 3 at NSH 4 - SOD. Legwand
Feb 02 '10PHX 1 at NSH 0 - SOA. Aucoin
Jan 21 '10NSH 2 at PHX 4S. Upshall
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
W. Wolski73213556+202725
S. Doan75173653+03754
M. Lombardi71163248+43442
L. Stempniak73241842-22482
R. Vrbata75231942+102464
K. Yandle75122537+164552
M. Hanzal74112233+49820
S. Upshall49181432+55024
E. Jovanovski60102131-115352
R. Lang6492029-42831
A. Aucoin7582028-15412
D. Morris6932528+23320
V. Fiddler6971926+104401
P. Prucha7313922+11942
T. Pyatt6791019+103211
P. Mueller5441317-5811
D. Winnik6731417+21001
Z. Michalek6631215+53021
J. Vandermeer604812+35801
P. Nokelainen614711-112700
S. Lepisto601910+115401
L. Korpikoski64448-121601
M. Schneider23268+41410
P. Bissonnette40325-211201
D. Schlemko17145+1800
M. Boedker14123+2000
A. Eriksson12033+0200
S. Heshka8022+0400
J. Perrault2101-1000
K. Porter4000+1000
J. Hoggan4000-1200
K. Sauer1000+1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
I. Bryzgalov6439-19-514418212.29.921
J. LaBarbera157-4-1294042.16.928
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Erat68202848-74252
P. Hornqvist74291847+1534108
S. Sullivan75153247+13143
J. Arnott61182644-12663
J. Dumont67162743+82033
S. Weber71142539+03273
D. Legwand75102636-22403
R. Suter7533134+34420
J. Ward66131932-31831
M. Goc66121527+91401
D. Hamhuis7151823+64900
D. Boyd71101222+71703
D. Grebeshkov5171421-163210
C. Franson5461319+151613
J. Tootoo4561016+53601
J. Smithson629413+15401
C. Wilson287613-5013
R. Jones417411+31820
C. O'Reilly292911+1410
K. Klein7411011-122700
F. Bouillon742810+54410
D. Scatchard16325+31700
M. Santorelli25213-8800
A. Thuresson22123-5400
N. Spaling23033+3000
W. Belak36022+04800
A. Sulzer20022+4400
T. Laakso7000-2200
B. Guite6000-3400
T. Grant3000-1900
P. Olvecky1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Rinne5229-14-412513452.61.907
D. Ellis3014-13-1758192.72.908