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Predators-Coyotes Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Nashville Predators (42-21-8) at Phoenix Coyotes (33-34-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.

A week ago, the Nashville Predators looked as though they might make a late run for the Central Division title.

With two losses on the West Coast over the weekend, the Predators may now be focusing on just securing home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs as they close out a four-game trip against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Predators began the trip last Tuesday in Detroit, where they won 3-2 in a shootout. The victory was Nashville's fifth straight and moved the team to within eight points of the first-place Red Wings in the Central.

Nashville didn't fare as well during the West Coast portion of this trip, though, losing 6-3 to Anaheim Friday and 6-4 to Los Angeles on Saturday to fall further behind the Wings with only 11 games remaining.

The Predators are fourth in the Western Conference, six or more points ahead of a group of teams competing for the final four playoff berths.

On Saturday, Nashville allowed three unanswered goals to Los Angeles after taking a 4-3 lead into the third period. The Predators gave the Kings 10 power-play opportunities, and they scored three times with the advantage in the second to erase a 2-0 deficit.

"I can't really say a whole lot that you can print," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Any time you give up three power-play goals in a game, your chances of winning aren't very good. We had a lot of guys who were taxed by all the penalties these last games."

The Predators have been effective killing penalties all season, but have allowed eight man-advantage goals in their last three games.

The Coyotes have won four of their last six games, but are far behind the pack in the West.

Phoenix had won three straight before losing 5-2 Saturday to the Mighty Ducks. The Coyotes tied the game at 2-2 early in the second period before allowing Anaheim to score the last three goals of the game.

"We let ourselves down in a couple of areas but we competed," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "It's tough to lose. You hate to lose, but I know we're going forward here and have the team going in the right direction."

Scoring leader Shane Doan has nine goals and seven assists in 12 games since the Olympic break, but Phoenix is just 6-6-0 over that span.

Nashville has won five straight over Phoenix.

STANDINGS: Predators - 92 points, 2nd place, 13 PB, Central Division. Coyotes - 70 points, 5th place, 29 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Steve Sullivan, 31 goals; Paul Kariya, 45 assists and 72 points; Brendan Witt, 174 PIM. Coyotes - Doan, 26 goals, 57 points and 116 PIM; Ladislav Nagy, 41 assists.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Predators - Power play: 18.7 percent (82 for 439), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (388 for 462), 7th. Coyotes - Power play: 17.8 percent (84 for 471), 16th. Penalty killing: 81.0 percent (359 for 443), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Tomas Vokoun (35-16-7, 4 SO, 2.63 GAA); Chris Mason (6-4-1, 3.12). Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (27-20-2, 2, 2.98); David LeNeveu (3-6-2, 3.35).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: March 16; Predators, 2-0. At Nashville, Tenn., Vokoun stopped 24 shots as the Predators set a franchise record with their 39th win of the season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 15-15-7 on the road; Coyotes - 17-17-3 at home.

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