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Game #39 Preview: Arizona at Nashville

Jason Demers expected to return and Antti Raanta tabbed to start as Coyotes complete pre-holiday back-to-back set

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #39: ARIZONA (21-13-4) at NASHVILLE (17-12-6)

6:00 PM MST - Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, TN

TV: Fox Sports Arizona Plus (Matt McConnell, Tyson Nash, Todd Walsh)

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis)

Referees: Frederick L'Ecuyer #17, Conor O'Donnell #41

Linesmen: Devin Berg #87, Derek Amell #75

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ARIZONA AT NASHVILLE

The Coyotes play their final game prior to the holiday break tonight against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena, marking the second of the teams' three scheduled meetings this season.

This will serve as Arizona's lone regular season visit to Nashville. The Predators will return to Gila River Arena on March 28 to complete the season series.

The top of the Pacific remains jam-packed; though the Coyotes continue to occupy first-place, they are tied with the second-place Vegas Golden Knights in standings' points (46) and just two points up on the third-place Edmonton Oilers (44). The Golden Knights host the Colorado Avalanche tonight, while the Oilers visit the Vancouver Canucks.

Arizona began its back-to-back set on a high note in Detroit, beating the Red Wings by a 5-2 score to transition into tonight's contest in Nashville.

The Predators are coming off of a 4-3 OT win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday and have earned points in four consecutive games (3-0-1). They have combined for 21 goals during that stretch and enter the night fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 3.49 goals per game.

And to counter the Predators' offensive attack comes a little bit of help.

Defenseman Jason Demers will return to the lineup tonight after missing the last six games due to an upper-body injury, head coach Rick Tocchet confirmed following the Coyotes' morning meetings.

Antti Raanta , who enters the evening with a .920 SV% and a 2.67 GAA, will make his second-straight start, his 15th of the season, to follow his 28-save outing last night in Detroit.

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THREE THINGS

WHILE WE'RE AWAY: The Coyotes improved to 13-4-3 on the road after their 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Sunday night. Arizona's 13 road wins and 29 road points are second in the NHL only to the Washington Capitals, who have won 16 games away from home and earned 33 points in opposing buildings. Clayton Keller , who leads the Coyotes in road scoring with 17 points (7G, 10A), registered a season-high three points (2G, 1A) to spark Arizona's road victory last night in Detroit.

HALL OF A START: Should Taylor Hall register a point tonight against the Predators, he would become the first player in Coyotes history to record a point in his first four games with the team. Hall has a point in each of his first three games played with Arizona since the December 16 trade, totaling a goal and two assists. Jakob Chychrun is the only other player in Coyotes history to record a point in his first three games with the team, when he did so on October 15, 20, and 21 of his 2016-17 rookie season.

FOR THREE!: The Coyotes have combined to score 13 goals over their last three games, and with that offensive output, five players on the roster enter night with active three-game point streaks: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2G, 3A - 5 points), Taylor Hall (1G, 2A - 3 points), Clayton Keller (3G, 2A - 5 points), Nick Schmaltz (6A - 6 points), and Carl Soderberg (2G, 1A - 3 points).

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LAST TIME AROUND

OCTOBER 17, 2019 - ARIZONA (5) vs. NASHVILLE (2)

The Coyotes gained an early lead and never looked back in the teams' previous meeting on October 17 at Gila River Arena, a 5-2 Coyotes win.

Christian Dvorak opened the scoring, Phil Kessel netted two power play goals, and Jakob Chychrun and Carl Soderberg tallied their first goals of the season. All in all, the Coyotes scored three power play goals, a season high.

Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves in the win.

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NUMBER TO KNOW

TWENTY-ONE (21)

While Taylor Hall has averaged a point-per-game through his first three games played with the Coyotes, he's also averaged a point-per-game during his career when playing the Nashville Predators.

Hall has 21 points (8G, 13) in 21-career games played against the Predators, most recently a two-point performance (1G, 1A) on December 7 in Nashville, when he scored what would prove to be his final goal as a member of the New Jersey Devils, his second-to-last game with his former team.

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QUICK HITS

  • A win tonight would be the 1,300th in Coyotes/Jets franchise history.
  • Pekka Rinne has six-career shutouts against the Coyotes, his most against any opponent.
  • Christian Dvorak ranks third in the NHL with a 60.1 FO%.
  • The Predators' 33.5 shots per game ranks fourth in the NHL.
  • Alex Goligoski has 24 points (5G, 19A) in 35-career games against Nashville.
  • The Coyotes co-lead (TBL) the NHL with a +13 first period goal differential.
  • Ryan Ellis has 17 points (8G, 9A) in 21-career games against the Coyotes.
  • Arizona owns a 35-26-2-11 all-time record against Nashville.

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Lead Photo Credit: John Russell - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Danny Murphy - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images // GIF Highlight Footage: Fox Sports Arizona // MSG Plus - MSG Network

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