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Predators eye strong finish at Bridgestone Arena

Look for success against Coyotes in final regular-season home game

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

COYOTES (35-38-7) at PREDATORS (40-26-14)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-TN, NHL.TV

NASHVILLE - The Nashville Predators will play their final regular-season home game against the Arizona Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

The Predators have clinched the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and will play the Pacific Division champion (either the Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings) in the Western Conference First Round.

"We've got to make the games count," Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson said. "We've got to go in there, work hard and get a good feeling before the playoffs. We've got to work hard, and that's the main point."

The Predators are 22-11-7 at home this season and have gone 8-1-4 in their past 13 home games.

"Our fans are terrific," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "It can become a really loud place, a great place. It does give us an advantage. The fact that there's been so many sellouts and so many people in the building on a consistent basis behind our team is a great."

Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto participated in practice Wednesday and the morning skate Thursday, and will be a game-time decision against Arizona, Laviolette said.

The Coyotes will miss the playoffs but are looking to close out the regular season with strong efforts against the Predators on Thursday and at the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Rookie forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair have been key players for the Coyotes this season. Domi ranks second in scoring for Arizona with 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) and Duclair fourth with 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists).

"I'm as big of a fan of those two as anybody," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "I think they are special players. We're excited about what they can grow into, what they've already done, but what they're growing into is really exciting."

Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue left the road trip and likely will not play again this season due to family reasons.

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Alex Tanguay - Antoine Vermette - Anthony Duclair

Tobias Rieder - Laurent Dauphin - Jiri Sekac

Max Domi - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan

Jordan Martinook - Boyd Gordon - Kyle Chipchura

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy

Kevin Connauton - Zbynek Michalek

Klas Dahlbeck - Alex Grant

Mike Smith

Marek Langhamer

Scratched: Nicklas Grossman, Louis Domingue, Sergei Plotnikov, Viktor Tikhonov

Injured: Eric Selleck (upper body), Martin Hanzal (upper body), Anders Lindback (Achilles), Michael Stone (lower body), Joe Vitale (concussion)

PREDATORS

Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson

Colton Sissons - Paul Gaustad - Cody Bass

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Petter Granberg

Anthony Bitetto - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Eric Nystrom, Austin Watson

Injured: Gabriel Bourque (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (undisclosed)

Status report: Smith will start for the Coyotes. … Langhamer was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. …  The Predators held an optional morning skate.

Who's hot: Ekman-Larsson has one goal and one assist in his past three games and leads the Coyotes with 53 points (21 goals, 32 points). … Forsberg has one goal and four assists in his past five games and leads the Predators with 32 goals.

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