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Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Coyotes @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Nashville Predators (3-0-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (1-3-0).

TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EDT.

Wayne Gretzky's coaching career is off to a rocky start.

The Phoenix Coyotes hope to get their first-year coach his second win when they host the unbeaten Nashville Predators.

The Coyotes have lost three of their first four games, each by one goal. Phoenix has several players capable of putting the puck in the net, but they've scored two goals in each of their four games.

Denis Gauthier and Paul Mara scored in the Coyotes' 3-2 loss to Dallas on Tuesday.

Gretzky, whose club fell to 0-3 on the road, is learning the hard way that the game isn't as easy for his players as it was for him.

"What's more frustrating is we won't shoot the puck from the blue line and I don't understand why," he said. "We take a shot late in the game and we score a goal. You got to shoot the puck from the blue line to open that up. We just haven't done that."

Phoenix forward Brett Hull failed to record a point Tuesday, leaving him with one assist and no goals through four games. Hull, who has 741 career goals, had 68 points with Detroit in 2003-2004. He's scored at least 25 goals in 16 of his 17 NHL seasons.

The Predators, who have had no trouble scoring, have developed a trend of falling behind early in games.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored his second goal on a power play with 6 1/2 minutes to play Wednesday, leading Nashville to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Colorado.

The Predators seemed sluggish in the early going, falling behind 3-0 midway through the second period before snapping out of their funk with two goals in the final eight minutes and another early in the third.

"It has been a trend for us the first three games," Zidlicky said. "We don't come out hard at the beginning of the game and try to feel the other team out. By that time we are down a goal or two. That is a trend we have to change."

Nashville is 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.

STANDINGS: Predators - 6 points, 1st place (tied), Central Division. Coyotes - 2 points, 5th place, 4 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Zidlicky and Yanic Perreault, 2 goals; Steve Sullivan, 5 assists and 6 points; Danny Markov, 6 PIM. Coyotes - Oleg Saprykin, 2 goals; Krystofer Kolanos, Mike Leclerc and Mike Johnson, 2 assists; Oleg Saprykin and Krystofer Kolanos, 3 points; Tyson Nash, 25 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 11): Predators - Power play: 14.3 percent (1 for 7), 19th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 100.0 percent (11 for 11), 1st. Coyotes - Power play: 18.2 percent (4 for 22), 14th. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (16 for 19), 16th.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Tomas Vokoun (3-0-0, 0 SO, 3.42 GAA); Chris Mason (0-0-0, 0, 0.00). Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (1-1-0, 0, 2.02); David Leneveu (0-2-0, 0, 3.08).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 3-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 21, 2004; Predators, 8-2. At Phoenix, Sullivan had a goal and three assists to lead the Predators. Scott Walker added three assists for Nashville.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 1-0-0 on the road; Coyotes - 1-0-0 at home.

Associated Press
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