Predators aim for second straight vs. surging Coyotes
Mike G. Morreale
COYOTES (33-18-5) at PREDATORS (30-21-3)
Last 10 -- Phoenix 7-3-0; Nashville 4-6-0
Season series -- The teams play for the second time in 13 days -- only this time in the Music City. In the earlier meeting on Jan. 21, Phoenix forward Scottie Upshall scored three third-period goals to lead his team to a 4-2 triumph.
Big Story -- The Coyotes have won four straight and seven of the last nine and currently sit fourth in the Western Conference with 71 points. They play 16 of their final 26 games on the road. The team has been paced by captain Shane Doan, who was named the NHL's First Star of the Week after scoring his 18th goal of the season on Sunday in a 4-2 victory over Dallas. Doan has 15 points (five goals) in the last eight games and is now within two goals of his 10th straight 20-goal season.
Coyotes -- The Coyotes received some bad news on Sunday when they learned Upshall would be sidelined the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Upshall was injured in Thursday's 3-2 win over Calgary and missed Saturday night's 3-2 victory over the Rangers. The team said surgery will be necessary to repair the tear. Upshall, 26, was tied with Doan for the team-scoring lead with 18 goals through 49 games at the time of his injury.
Predators -- The Predators snapped a five-game losing streak on Saturday following a 4-3 victory over Atlanta in Nashville. The Predators entered the third period tied 3-3 before center Jason Arnott connected for the game-winner seven seconds into the period. Arnott has scored 10 of his 13 goals on home ice.
"In a lot of ways it was an ugly game, in a sense, but we gutted it out," coach Barry Trotz said. "As harsh and ugly as it looked at times, the beauty of the thing was we gutted it out and found a way to win, and that was important."
Who's Hot -- Predators wing Martin Erat has 3 goals and 5 points in his last five games. He has 14 goals and 23 points in his last 24 games.
Injury Report -- Nashville forwards Marcel Goc (upper body) and Wade Belak (foot) are day-to-day. … Phoenix is without Upshall (lower body) and defenseman Kurt Sauer (neck).
Stat Pack -- The Predators are 20-3-1 when scoring first, third best in the League in that category.
Puck Drop -- The Predators have reached a critical stretch in their schedule with the next three on home ice at Sommet Center, where they have fashioned a 15-10-1 mark.