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Game Day: Coyotes vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(35-38-7) Arizona Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators (40-26-14)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #ARIvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
Tickets | Fan Appreciation Night


The Nashville Predators conclude their 41-game home slate of the 2015-16 regular season this evening when the Arizona Coyotes come to town on Fan Appreciation Night. The Preds have two games remaining on the season overall, with the finale coming Saturday night in Dallas before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next week.

Nashville snapped a winless skid with a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night to reach the 40-win mark and eliminate the Avs from playoff contention. Arizona lost 6-2 to Chicago on Tuesday and have lost four of their last five games.

The Preds have amassed a 22-11-7 record so far this season at home (13th in the NHL; 6th in the West), which is good for 51 points in the standings. Nashville ranks 12th at home on the power play, converting on 26-of-129 opportunities at Bridgestone Arena (20.2 percent). Filip Forsberg leads the team in home goals (21) and points 38 points (21g-17a), while Mattias Ekholm leads the club with a plus-21 rating.

Two Predators are within striking distance of surpassing the franchise record for most goals in a single season, with Forsberg (32) and James Neal (31) in position to tie Jason Arnott (33). Forsberg and Neal became the fifth and sixth players in franchise history to score 30 in a single season in 2015-16. It's the second time that the team has had two, 30-goal scorers in a single season. The only other time the Preds had multiple 30-goal scorers was 2005-06, when Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya each notched 31. The Preds are one of only two NHL clubs so far this season to have multiple 30-goal scorers, joining the Dallas Stars in that category.

Tonight's contest between the Predators and Coyotes features the top-two defensive power-play goal scorers in the League. Shea Weber leads the NHL with 13 special teams tallies, while Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson is tied for second with 12 goals. Weber's 13 power-play goals are a career high for the defenseman, and is one tally away from reaching the franchise record (14) set by Andy Delmore and Paul Kariya.

Forsberg's 32 goals and 61 points lead the Preds in the offensive categories, followed by defenseman Roman Josi with 59 points, a record for a Preds defenseman in a single season. Neal has 31 goals and 56 points on the season, while former Coyote Mike Ribeiro has 43 assists and 50 points. Weber has also hit the 50-point mark, including 19 goals. Craig Smith has tallied on 21 occasions this season. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 33-21-10 on the season and has six career shutouts against the Coyotes.

Calle Jarnkrok has a goal in two of his last three games versus the Coyotes; Neal has a point in six of his last seven games against Arizona (4g-3a).

Ekman-Larsson leads the Coyotes in points with 53, followed by rookie Max Domi with 52. Captain Shane Doan leads the club with 27 goals and is third with 46 points. Goaltender Mike Smith is 15-12-1 overall this season.

All-time, Nashville is 32-25-6 versus Arizona including a 19-10-3 mark at Bridgestone Arena.

As part of Fan Appreciation Night, the first 15,000 fans attending the home finale will receive a pair of Preds sunglasses, courtesy of Hermitage Lighting Gallery. During the first intermission, three lucky fans will have the opportunity to “shoot for $10,000” through a contest at center ice. In addition, players will be presenting fans with jerseys off their backs following the game.


Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Anthony Bitetto, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson


What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

The Predators held an optional morning skate on Thursday. Below is the team's projected lineup based on Wednesday's practice.


Forwards
Calle Jarnkrok Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Viktor Arvidsson
Colton Sissons Paul Gaustad Cody Bass
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm Petter Granberg
Anthony Bitetto Ryan Ellis

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Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne did not participate in the optional morning skate and is the projected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.

Extra:
(D) Barret Jackman, (F) Austin Watson, (F) Eric Nystrom, (F) Gabriel Bourque (upper-body), (F) Miikka Salomaki (undisclosed)


Arizona Coyotes:

Forwards
Max Domi Antoine Vermette Anthony Duclair
Alex Tanguay Brad Richardson Shane Doan
Tobias Rieder Laurent Dauphin Jiri Sekac
Jordan Martinook Boyd Gordon Viktor Tikhonov
Defense
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Connor Murphy
Kevin Connauton Zbynek Michalek
Klas Dahlbeck Alex Grant

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Goaltenders: Mike Smith is expected to start in net tonight with Marek Langhamer serving as the backup.

Extra:
(F) Steve Downie, (G) Louis Domingue, (G) Anders Lindback, (D) Michael Stone, (F) Joe Vitale, (D) Nicklas Grossmann, (F) Martin Hanzal, (F) Eric Selleck, (F) Sergei Plotnikov

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