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Coyotes surviving injuries, aim for homestand sweep

by Jerry Brown /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes have done a lot of lineup juggling and player shuffling thanks to sickness, injuries and suspensions early in the season. But the results have them sitting right in the thick of the NHL’s toughest division and playing especially tough at home.

The Coyotes will shoot for a three-game homestand sweep against the Nashville Predators on Thursday at Arena, where they are 5-0-1 this season as part of an 8-3-2 start.

The Coyotes will get back Lauri Korpikoski, who missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. But Phoenix will still be without defenseman Rostislav Klesla (lower body), center Jeff Halpern and center Martin Hanzal, who completes his two-game suspension for a charging offense against the Edmonton Oilers' Jeff Petry on Saturday.

In addition, defensemen Zbynek Michalek and David Schlemko both missed the morning skate Thursday with undisclosed injuries and are game-time decisions. With Klesla already out, the Coyotes have one extra defenseman (David Rundblad) and need either Michalek or Schlemko to play to have a full complement.

Thomas Greiss will make his second start of the year for the Coyotes in place of workhorse goalie Mike Smith. Greiss was impressive in his only other start, a 2-1 road win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 11, and has a 2.02 goals-against average in his three appearances.

Dave Tippett will be shooting for his 165th victory as coach of the Coyotes, which would tie Bob Francis for the all-time franchise record. If he wins Thursday, it will have taken Tippett only 308 games to accomplish the feat, a full season of exactly 82 games less than the 390 games Francis coached behind the Phoenix bench. In all, Tippett has 435 NHL coaching wins with the Dallas Stars (2002-2009) and Phoenix (2009-present).

Nashville begins a 16-day road trip and will likely go the distance without star goalie Pekka Rinne (hip). Rookie Carter Hutton, who was pulled after allowing six goals to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, gets the start against Phoenix.

The Predators will get defenseman Roman Josi back after missing three weeks with a concussion. Victor Bartley will sit to make room for Josi, while Predators coach Barry Trotz juggled his forward lines in the wake of the loss to the Blues.

Forwards Rich Clune and Filip Forsberg are healthy scratches, and the forward lines all have a new look for the Predators.


Eric NystromDavid Legwand -- Patric Hornqvist

Gabriel Bourque - Matt Cullen - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Stalberg

Matt Hendricks - Paul GaustadNick Spaling

Seth JonesShea Weber

Roman Josi -- Kevin Klein

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Carter Hutton

Magnus Hellberg

Scratched: Filip Forsberg, Gabriel Bourque, Victor BartleyRich Clune

Injured: Pekka Rinne (hip)


Mikkel BoedkerMike RibeiroRadim Vrbata

Rob KlinkhammerAntoine VermetteShane Doan

Lauri KorpikoskiAndy MieleDavid Moss

Jordan SzwarzKyle ChipchuraPaul Bissonnette

Zbynek MichalekOliver Ekman-Larsson

Keith YandleDerek Morris

David SchlemkoMichael Stone

Thomas Greiss

Mike Smith

Scratched: David Rundblad

Suspended: Martin Hanzal

Injuries: Rostislav Klesla (lower body), Jeff Halpern (upper body)

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