COYOTES (31-19-9) at PREDATORS (31-19-8)
Last 10 -- Phoenix 7-3-0; Nashville 4-4-2
Season series -- It's the fourth and final meeting between the clubs this season. Nashville owns a 2-1 advantage in the season series with wins in the last two games, including a 5-2 decision on Jan. 18 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
Big story -- The Coyotes have won six in a row to leap into first place in the Pacific Division, but this is the first of five in a row on the road. The Predators are coming off one of their best performances of the season in a 3-1 win over Vancouver and are 3-0-1 in their last four. These are two of the most underrated and probably underappreciated teams in the NHL, but they are both in the top four in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Coyotes -- Another game, another win for the streaking Coyotes, who haven't lost since Vancouver blew them out, 6-0, on Feb. 2. This is their first of five straight on a road trip that will also take them to Philadelphia, Tampa, Columbus and Chicago. Ilya Bryzgalov has been spectacular of late. He's allowed only nine goals during the six-game winning streak that started with a pair of shutouts. He gave up nine goals over his two starts prior to the winning streak. Keith Yandle had 3 assists in Thursday's 4-3 win over Atlanta to give him 41, the most of any blueliner in the NHL this season. His 50 points is also tops among defensemen. Ray Whitney has points in five straight games. Ed Jovanovski left Thursday's game after the second period with a facial injury.
Predators -- Similar to the Coyotes, the Predators have been getting some spectacular goaltending from their No. 1. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves in Thursday's 3-1 win over Vancouver and has given up only seven goals in the past four games. The Predators won Thursday despite losing Marcel Goc and Steve Sullivan to injuries. Goc suffered an upper body injury while Sullivan was hit in the face by a deflected pass. Mike Fisher had to leave the game briefly after getting struck in the face with a puck, but he returned and scored his first goal as a Predator in the second period. The Predators are trying to chase the Red Wings for first in the Central Division, but are six points back. J-P Dumont was a healthy scratch Thursday for the second straight game. He played in 56 of the first 57 games.
Who's hot -- Whitney has a goal and 7 assists during his five-game point streak. … Nashville captain Shea Weber has 21 points on 5 goals and 16 assists over his last 22 games.
Injury report -- The Coyotes were without Taylor Pyatt (upper body) and Adrian Aucoin (lower body) on Thursday -- both were late scratches. Jovanovski did not return and is questionable. … Nashville is missing defenseman Francis Bouillon, who has been out with a concussion since Jan. 16. Sullivan was taken to the hospital after getting hit by the puck in Thursday's game. Goc could be out, too.
Stat pack -- Whitney had only 4 points over his nine games prior to starting his point-scoring streak. Nashville is 21-3-6 when scoring first and 23-1-4 when leading after two periods. Rinne is 15-2-1 when the Predators score at least three goals. … The Coyotes have played the same amount of road games as home games so far, but with five in a row on the road now they will have a heavy set of home games down the stretch. Twelve of their final 19 games will be at Jobing.com Arena.
Puck drop -- "It was great to finish the homestand with three wins and take a winning streak on the road for this tough trip," Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski said following Thursday's win against Atlanta. "You try not to look at the standings because everything is so tight. You just concentrate on winning and trying to get your points."