Skip to main content

Coyotes focus on key game against Predators

by Jon Lane

COYOTES (36-28-15) at PREDATORS (35-32-12)


Last 10: Phoenix 3-3-4; Nashville 6-2-2

Season series: This is the third and final game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators. The teams split the first two with Nashville winning the last game 4-2 on Nov. 25 at Bridgestone Arena.

Big story: Although the Coyotes are on a five-game winless streak (0-2-3), they remain in a tight race with the Dallas Stars for the second Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Coyotes currently trail the Stars by two points, but have a game in hand. Phoenix ends the road portion of its schedule in Nashville before playing its final two games at Arena, including a potential showdown against the Stars on Sunday.

"Our margin for error is slim," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said following practice Wednesday.

The Predators were eliminated from playoff contention following a 3-2 loss to the Stars on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix was looking at a greater deficit in its race against the Stars before defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson's goal with 15 seconds remaining Tuesday tied the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Although the Coyotes fell 4-3, the significance of the goal wasn't lost on Tippett.

"The point we got could turn out to be a very valuable point," Tippett said. "The bottom line is now we're in a situation where we've got to win out. That's just the way it is. The players recognize that, the coaching staff recognizes that and we're preparing accordingly. … We've always been a realistic group and we know exactly where we are."

Thomas Greiss will likely start in goal for the Coyotes. Goaltender Mike Smith (lower body) practiced Wednesday and Tippett said he'll return once he declares he's ready.

Predators: Nashville made a late push to secure a postseason spot with points in four straight games and eight of nine, but will miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-02 and 2002-03.

''Played some good hockey, feel like we got better through the season, so we can obviously hang our hat on that,'' center Mike Fisher said. ''But it's still disappointing.''

Predators defenseman and captain Shea Weber was blunt in his assessment following the loss to the Stars.

"Nobody likes losing. It's frustrating," Weber said. "I don't know. I don't know what to say. It [stinks]. I hate it. Everyone in here hates it, and it's not a good feeling. Something's got to change. We have to get better, and we have to find a way to get into the postseason."

Who's hot: Coyotes left wing Mikkel Boedker has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past five games, and with an assist Tuesday reached 50 points for the first time in his career. Ekman-Larsson has two goals and three points in his past two games. … Predators defenseman Roman Josi has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past nine games and 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in his past 32. Forward Patric Hornqvist has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past eight games.

Injury report: Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal (lower body) remains sidelined. Defenseman David Schlemko (bruised left foot) is out indefinitely. … Predators forward Patrick Eaves (lower body) remains sidelined.


View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.