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Predators hope hard work equals success vs. Coyotes

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com

COYOTES (2-2-0) at PREDATORS (3-0-2)

TV: FS-A, FS-TN

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have gained at least one point in all five of their games to start the season and will try to extend that streak to six Tuesday when they host the Arizona Coyotes.

Nashville got three of four points during its two-game weekend road trip at the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators' early success has them leading the Central Division heading into games Tuesday.

"Hard work ethic has been the No. 1 key for us, I think," Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "We're always working hard. I don't know one game that we can say we got outworked. And then the system has been working for us so far. That's a huge part of it too. I don't think I can say one thing that just sums it all up. I think it's all the little pieces and all the little details."

Arizona has allowed 18 goals in four games, including six against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. The Coyotes' focus will be to play better defensively Tuesday than they have so far this season.

"I think we've got to stop playing in our end so much and kind of beating ourselves," Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko said. "It starts with us on the back end and all the way through our team. We all know we can be a lot better."

Forward Mikkel Boedker has started strong offensively for the Coyotes, scoring five goals in four games. Boedker has been on a line with Antoine Vermette and Shane Doan, and attributes two things to his strong offensive start.

"Consistency and good linemates," Boedker said. "They're putting me in some really good situations to finish and put [the puck] home and I've been able to do that."

Boedker's impressive start has been needed for the Coyotes. The 24-year-old had a career-best 19 goals and 51 points last season.

"He's a young player that continues to emerge," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "He has good offensive instincts and shoots the puck very well. That's the thing; I think this year he is shooting the puck and wants to be a little more selfish with his shooting it. He's had some success. He's a good young player and will continue to improve."

Nashville is getting opportunities on the power play but hasn't been able to convert enough for its liking as of yet. The Predators have scored on 12.5 percent of their power plays, which ranks 22nd in the NHL entering play Tuesday.

"I think it's just a matter of time," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "To be honest, I think it's a little bit like our 5-on-5 play. There seems like there's lots of looks and A chances and opportunity. I think if we just stay with it, things will fall on both ends."

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal for Arizona on Tuesday night in place of Mike Smith.

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Martin Erat - Sam Gagner - Lauri Korpikoski

Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Chipchura - David Moss

Brandon McMillan - Joe Vitale - B.J. Crombeen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy

Keith Yandle - Michael Stone

David Schlemko - Zbynek Michalek

Devan Dubnyk

Mike Smith

Scratched: Chris Summers

Injured: Martin Hanzal (lower body)

PREDATORS

Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal

Colin Wilson - Derek Roy - Craig Smith

Olli Jokinen - Calle Jarnkrok - Viktor Stalberg

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Gabriel Bourque

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Rich Clune, Taylor Beck, Victor Bartley

Injured: Mike Fisher (Achilles tendon), Matt Cullen (upper body)

Status report: Arizona is starting Dubnyk in goal and placing Schlemko back in the lineup in an effort to try and play a better defensive game. … Stalberg returned from injury Oct. 17 in Winnipeg, which has forced the Predators to have two healthy scratches at forward since then.

Who's hot: Boedker has five goals in four games for the Coyotes, including a hat trick Oct. 15 against the Edmonton Oilers. … Weber has three goals in five games for the Predators and is averaging 27:51 of ice time per game, second in the NHL.

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