PREDATORS (18-7-2) at COYOTES (10-15-3)
TV: FS-TN, FS-A
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With six losses in the past seven games and a franchise-record seven straight losses on home ice, the Arizona Coyotes are looking for any scrap of good news to help spin them out of a month-long funk.
Forward David Moss alone isn’t the cure for what ails the Coyotes, but having the veteran back after a 22-game absence from a hand injury will help the team in several areas when they play the Nashville Predators Thursday.
Moss has been out since blocking a shot with his hand on Oct. 23. Coach Dave Tippett will put him right into the mix on a line with Sam Gagner and Tobias Rieder. The Coyotes are scrounging for offense after being outscored 12-2 over the past home games.
“(Moss) is a smart player. He plays in a lot of different situations and really adds some stability for us.” Tippett said. “He’s a real good veteran pro; a real good glue guy. Anyone he plays with, it seems to help them along. Hopefully he can jump back in there and get up to speed in a hurry.”
The Coyotes recalled defenseman David Schlemko after what Tippett called “two excellent games” with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. He will team with Connor Murphy.
Schlemko and center Kyle Chipchura were both placed on waivers recently but both are being given another chance Thursday to make a contribution for a team in search of a spark.
“If you play well everything is fine. If you don’t play well and you need a little kick in the butt, that’s what’s going to happen,” Tippett said. “We need (Chipchura) to be a better player than he’s been.
“We’ve done lots and lots of talking this year, but it’s about doing. If you really hate to lose, show me how much you hate it. It’s as simple as that.”
Goalie Mike Smith will start for Arizona. Pekka Rinne, fresh off a 3-0 shutout win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, will start for Nashville.
Predators center Mike Ribeiro returns to Arizona for the first time since the Coyotes bought out his contract after just one year. Ribeiro, who is being paid $1.05 million from the Predators and $1.94 million from the Coyotes this season, earned his 15th and 16th assists of the season against Colorado, and his 24 points ranks second to 20-year-old Filip Forsberg on the Predators.
The Predators didn’t skate on Thursday. Derek Roy skated in place of center Paul Gaustad in practice on Wednesday. Gaustad played just two shifts against the Avalanche before leaving with an upper body injury.
Here are the projected lineups:
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal
Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Calle Jarnkrok - Olli Jokinen
Eric Nystrom - Derek Roy - Gabriel Bourque
Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Victor Bartley - Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Injured: Taylor Beck (concussion), Viktor Stalberg (lower body), Anton Volchenkov (lower body), Paul Gaustad (upper body).
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Tobias Rieder - Sam Gagner - Lauri Korpikoski
Martin Erat- Martin Hanzal – David Moss
Jordan Martinook – Kyle Chipchura – Joe Vitale
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek
Keith Yandle - Michael Stone
David Schlemko – Connor Murphy
Scratched: Brandon McMillan, B.J. Crombeen, Chris Summers
Injured: Brandon Gormley (lower body)
Status Report: Chipchura will play on a line with Vitale and Martinook. Matrinook gets a second game after catching Tippett’s eye with his speed and effort. … McMillan and Crombeen are scratched. Smith’s has one win in his last 10 decisions (1-7-2) dating back to Nov. 7.
Who’s Hot: Nashville’s top three scorers Forsberg (27 points), Ribeiro (24 points), and Neal (16 points) all had points against the Avalanche on Tuesday. … Forsberg had his ninth multi-point game against Colorado and leads NHL rookies with 12 goals. His plus-23 is No. 1 in the League. … Nashville is 5-0-0 when Nystrom scores a goal.