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Coyotes conclude homestand against Preds

by Brian Compton
PREDATORS (40-21-7) at COYOTES (34-25-10)


Last 10: Nashville 7-2-1; Phoenix 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Phoenix has taken two of the first three showdowns this season, including a 3-2 win at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 6.

Big Story: It's a game featuring two teams that are battling for position in the heated Western Conference playoff race. Nashville enters as the No. 5 seed, just four points behind fourth-place Detroit. The Coyotes, meanwhile, are in seventh place, but only four points behind No. 6 Chicago.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville is seeking its third straight victory Monday night, as the Preds made it two in a row with Saturday's 3-2 win against Detroit at Bridgestone Arena. Andrei Kostitsyn had a pair of power-play goals, while Pekka Rinne made 35 saves for the Preds.

"The first one was a redirect to Andrei, and Andrei made a really good, poised move right at the net and put it in," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "On the second one, we threw it down low and waited for their D to turn his head for one second. As soon as he turned his head, Andrei jumped backdoor, and Sergei (Kostitsyn) fed him a great pass. "

Coyotes: After starting the month with four straight regulation losses, Phoenix is starting to get back on track. The Coyotes opened their three-game homestand with a 3-2 shootout loss to Minnesota on Thursday night, but responded with a 3-0 win against San Jose on Saturday. Mike Smith stopped all 42 shots he faced for the shutout.

"We knew they were going to come at us hard that first period," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "They didn't disappoint us. We weathered the storm. Smith was excellent through the whole game, but especially early in the game. I think just where we have been the last few games, we needed to have something good happen to us and we did."

Who's Hot: Preds center David Legwand has had a pair of multi-assist efforts in his last six games. … Coyotes captain Shane Doan has 4 assists in his last five games.

Injury Report: Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. … Phoenix is without David Schlemko (foot) and Kyle Chipchura (wrist). Martin Hanzal is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack: Saturday's win was the first for the Coyotes in a game without a point from Ray Whitney or Radim Vrbata since Nov. 15 at Toronto.

Puck Drop: "It's a huge, gutsy win for our team. I know I hadn't played my best this last week and it's a tough time not to play up to your potential. It's been frustrating, but I knew tonight was another big win for our team. When everyone plays like we did tonight, we're a tough team to beat." -- Phoenix goalie Mike Smith after Saturday's 3-0 win against San Jose
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