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Off to fast start, Preds open at home vs. Coyotes

by Dave Lozo
COYOTES (0-1-1) at PREDATORS (2-0-0)


Season Series:
First of four meetings. The teams split their four meetings last year.

Big Story: One team is trying to replace an elite goalie; the other is riding theirs. After losing Ilya Bryzgalov to free agency this summer, the Coyotes have a tandem of Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera. Smith started the first two games, allowing six goals in the first and one in the second, both losses. Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne has allowed four goals in two games for Nashville, both victories.

Team Scope:

Coming off a drubbing from the San Jose Sharks in their opener, the Coyotes put forth a much stronger effort in Dallas on Monday. However, the Stars tied the game with 27 seconds left in regulation before winning 2-1 in a shootout.

"It was probably a game we deserved a better fate, but if we play like that, we'll get our amount of wins," coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought our guys competed hard, we did a lot of little things very well tonight, and it's too bad we didn't get the two points."

They're the youngest team in the League, but they responded with two road victories against the Blues and Jackets on back-to-back nights to start the season. Now the Predators will get to open their home portion of the schedule, and the confidence is high among the group.

"Two division opponents and go into their barns and winning is huge on the road," center David Legwand said. "Weathering the storm obviously had to do that off the bat. It's big for our team and our confidence right now."

Who's Hot: Coyotes captain Shane Doan is off to a nice start with 2 goals and 1 assist in two games. … Legwand is on pace for a 200-point season, with 5 points in the first two games.

Injury Report: Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival is dealing with an upper-body injury and was placed on IR. He was hit in the face with a puck during the team's opener against San Jose. … Preds left wing Martin Erat is battling an upper-body injury of his own, placing his status for the game in doubt. Francis Bouillon (concussion) and Mike Fisher (shoulder) are out and have yet to be cleared for contact.  

Stat Pack:
Dating back to last spring's playoffs, Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has 7 points (all assists) in five games. … Preds rookie Craig Smith is off to a hot start with 2 goals and 4 points in 2 games. The 22-year-old Smith was a fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2009.

Puck Drop:
"They're learning on the fly. They're getting the go-ahead with the coach (he) is letting them go out there and they're playing hard. That's what we need. They keep learning and they're asking questions and that's what we need. The more they do it, the better they're going to be down the road." -- Legwand, on the play of Smith and Colin Wilson this season

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