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Predators set to host reeling Coyotes

by Mike Battaglino

COYOTES (13-15-5) at PREDATORS (14-13-6)


Last 10: Phoenix 2-6-2; Nashville 5-4-1

Season series: This is the third and final meeting; each team has shut out the other as host. The Phoenix Coyotes won 4-0 on Jan. 28; the Nashville Predators won 3-0 on Feb. 14.

Big story: Nashville, which has won three in a row, and Phoenix, which has lost seven straight, sit among seven Western Conference teams that have from 36-31 points, seemingly vying for two Stanley Cup Playoff spots.

"This is the fun part about any race. The last couple of years ... we knew we were going to be in, [we] just didn't know who we were going to play," Predators coach Barry Trotz told The Tennessean on Wednesday. "This is a race more like we were a few years ago ... where we were getting in and it took all 82 games.

"Well, we don't have 82 games, we have 48. This is the fun part of the season, where you know every game is very important but at the same time you know that the light at the end of the tunnel is not that far away."

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix scored three goals in a game for the first time since March 14, but could not snap its losing streak (0-5-2). The 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday followed a stretch of five goals in the previous six games.

"In the end, we didn't do enough to win," coach Dave Tippett told Fox Sports Arizona. "We took a poor penalty in overtime, we didn't have the desperation to block a shot in the last minute. … We find ourselves in the same predicament, which is very frustrating for our group."

The Coyotes are 1-5-0 in the second half of back-to-back games this season.

"I hope it's a hard reminder that we gave a game away and we get right back at it," Tippet said. "You like to get back at it as soon as you're done, especially as disappointing as that game is."

Forward Steve Sullivan will play his 1,000th career game.

Predators: Nashville continues a streak in which it is playing 12 of its final 18 games at Bridgestone Arena. Last Thursday, they were in 13th place in the Western Conference; this Thursday, they are ninth.

"Obviously we've strung a couple games together and that's all well and good, and that's sort of put us in a position," Trotz said.

The Predators are 9-2-4 at home this season. Their longest remaining road trip is two games (twice), though they do play at the Chicago Blackhawks three times.

"We've got a schedule that I would say favors us," Trotz said. "We've done all our hard travel. … There's a lot of things positive with our schedule and where we're sitting right now."

Who's hot: Coyotes forwards Rob Klinkhammer and David Moss each have three points in the past two games. … Predators forward Mike Fisher has a seven-game point streak, his longest with the team and two games fewer than his career best (Ottawa Senators, 2007-08). Forward Martin Erat has three straight multipoint games. Defenseman Roman Josi has eight points in his past six games.

Injury report: Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (upper body) will miss his fourth straight game. Forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) did not play Wednesday. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) is day-to-day. … Predators defenseman Scott Hannan (upper body) has been cleared to play after being out since March 17. Forward Paul Gaustad (upper body) could return. Forward Colin Wilson (upper body) is skating on his own; he has missed eight games. Forward Patric Hornqvist (upper body) returned Monday.

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