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Game #6 Preview: Arizona vs. Nashville

Coyotes expected to use same lineup as Tuesday; host high-scoring Predators

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Game Preview

GAME #6: ARIZONA (2-2-1) vs. NASHVILLE (4-2-0)

7:00 PM PST - Gila River Arena | Glendale, Arizona

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

Radio: Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix (Bob Heethuis, Paul Bissonnette)

Referees: Tom Chmielewski #18, Graham Skilliter #24

Linesmen: Kiel Murchison #79, Devin Berg #87

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> ARIZONA VS. NASHVILLE <

The Coyotes open a two-game home stand tonight against the Nashville Predators, who are putting the finishing touches on a three-game road trip.

Tonight's meeting marks the first of three between the clubs this season; Arizona will makes its lone visit to Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on December 23 and the clubs will reconvene at Gila River Arena for the series finale on March 28.

Fresh off a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night, the Coyotes have now earned points in three straight games (2-0-1). The Predators are coming off a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

The Coyotes will go with the same lineup used on Tuesday night, as confirmed by Rick Tocchet following the morning skate. Darcy Kuemper will make his fifth start of the season.

Nashville comes in touting the top-ranked offense in the NHL (4.67 GF/G), while Arizona's defense enters ranked third (1.8 GA/G).

"It's a good match-up," Tocchet said. "They're a team that's been scoring a ton of goals, and we don't give up a lot right now. Over the last year, our identity's been defending the puck. It's a good test for us. We like to show that we can defend the puck, and we're going against a team that can score goals.

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> THREE THINGS <

HOT LINE: The trio of Conor Garland , Christian Dvorak , and Nick Schmnaltz accounted for all four of the Coyotes' goals on Tuesday. The three are expected to play alongside each other again tonight. "They just played a real quick game, they supported each other, they did all of the stuff we always talk about," head coach Rick Tocchet said of their line following morning skate. "If you look at their goals, they were all high-end. Those three guys have got some chemistry right now."

BURYING: High-scoring games have summed up the Predators schedule thus far; each of their six games played have had a minimum of seven combined goals. While the Predators have been scoring in bunches, they lead the NHL in goals-per-game with an average of 4.67, so have their opponents. The Predators are surrendering an average of 3.83 goals-per-game, tied for the fourth-highest median in the league.

A GOOD THING GOIN': The Coyotes have had a great deal of success against the Predators on home ice in recent history, posting a 5-1-1 record against Nashville in games played at Gila River Arena dating back to March of 2015. The Coyotes came out victorious in Nashville's lone visit last season, a 2-1 win, boosted by goals from Michael Grabner and Jason Demers , and a 45-save effort from Darcy Kuemper.

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> LAST TIME AROUND <

February 5, 2019 - Arizona (2) at Nashville (5)

The Coyotes came out on the losing end against the Predators just once in the teams' three meetings last year (2-1-0), that loss coming in the clubs' previous match-up on February 5 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

Calvin Pickard made a season-high 42 saves in the loss, facing 46 shots. Vinnie Hinostroza and Derek Stepan scored for Arizona; Hinostroza's tally coming late in the first period to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead, Stepan's coming early in the third to chip away at the deficit in the eventual 5-2 defeat.

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> NUMBER TO KNOW <

SIX HUNDRED (600)

Michael Grabner will play in his 600th NHL game tonight.

The 32-year-old forward has played with six NHL teams, including the Coyotes, appearing in 20 games with the Vancouver Canucks (2009-10), 297 games with the New York Islanders (2010-15), 80 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs (2015-16), 59 games with the New York Rangers (2017-18), 21 games with the New Jersey Devils (2017-18), and entering his 47th with the Coyotes this evening.

A staple on the penalty kill and an invaluable asset to the team's offensive depth, Grabner has registered 17 points in a Coyotes uniform (10G 7A), along with 15 blocked shots, 29 hits, and 36 takeaways.

His goal on Saturday night against Colorado initiated the Coyotes' third period comeback to force overtime.

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> QUICK HITS <

  • The Predators' 28 goals scored is their most through the first six games of a season in franchise history.
  • Christian Dvorak leads the NHL with a 72.1 FO%.
  • The Coyotes' nine goals allowed is tied with the New York Rangers for the second fewest in the NHL, behind only the Philadelphia Flyers' eight.
  • Nashville has scored a power play goal in each of its last five games.
  • The Coyotes own a 22-10-0-4 all-time record against the Predators on home ice.

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