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Pre-Game Capsule: Coyotes vs. Predators

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GAME 70:

Coyotes (23-35-11) vs. Predators (45-14-10)

Head Coach Rick Tocchet will be back behind the bench for Arizona after a one-game leave of absence when it hosts Nashville on Thursday night in Glendale. Tocchet's mother, Norma, passed away on Wednesday night at age 93 after a battle with brain cancer. 

WHERE: Gila River Arena

WHEN: 7 p.m. (AZ time)

TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

RADIO: ESPN 620 AM

Video: Tocchet on Returning to Team

KEY FACTS: 

• Arizona has won four consecutive home games and has posted an 8-2-1 record in its past nine games played at Gila River Arena.

• The Coyotes have earned 28 points since Feb. 8. Only the Predators (28) and Tampa Bay Lightning (25) have banked more points since that date. 

• Darcy Kuemper will start in goal for Arizona and rookie Adin Hill, who won his first NHL game vs. Los Angeles on Tuesday, will serve as Kuemper's backup. Antti Raanta will miss a sixth consecutive game because of a lower-body injury.

Video: Kuemper on Illness, Facing NSH

• Both Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan will enter the game with a two-game point streak. Keller leads the Coyotes with 50 points and Stepan ranks second with 44. 

• The Coyotes have tallied 18 goals in seven games in the month of March. Christian Dvorak scored four of those and needs just one more to match his career-high for goals in a season (15), which he set last season as a rookie. 

• Richard Panik has produced 11 points in 15 career games vs. Nashville, including five of his 55 NHL goals.

• Nashville is the NHL's hottest team with an 11-0-1 record in its past 12 games. The Predators, who have earned a League-high 100 points in 69 games, boast the stingiest defense in the NHL having allowed just 174 goals. Pekka Rinne, who ranks first in save percentage (.929) among NHL goalies who have played more than 30 games, is 9-0-0, with a 1.78 goals-against average and two shutouts in his past nine starts. Viktor Arvidsson leads Nashville with 52 points (26 goals, 26 assists). P.K. Subban ranks tied for first among NHL defensemen with 15 goals. 

Video: OEL: 'Everything's Easier When you Win'  

COYOTE BITES

• "They're just a great team. They've got so many good players so we're going to have to play a solid game to have a chance to beat them. We have to be motivated. Playing games against the teams that are probably going to go really deep in the playoffs are fun for us. Obviously, we're not going to make the playoffs so we're treating these games like mini-playoff games, if you will." -- Brendan Perlini on Predators

• "We have a couple top teams left on the schedule that we're going to play. It's going to be a fun challenge for us to kind of show ourselves and maybe get some more respect in the league that we can actually hang with the best teams in the league." -- Niklas Hjalmarsson on upcoming games vs. Nashville, Tampa Bay, Vegas 

• "We should be excited to play this team because this is a team that has a chance to win the Cup." -- Rick Tocchet on the Predators

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's projected lineup. #YOTES | #NSHvsARI pic.twitter.com/rdRxVeCdgM

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