(18-7-2) Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes (10-15-3)
8 P.M. | Gila River Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators continue on their current three-game road trip with a meeting in the desert with the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. It's the second of three contests between the two clubs this season, with the Preds taking the first meeting 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 21 in Nashville.
Yet to lose two games in a row on the campaign, the Predators started the trip off with a 3-0 win over Colorado on Tuesday. With the win, Nashville improved their road record to 7-5-1. The Coyotes fell 5-2 to the Boston Bruins in their most recent contest. Arizona currently sits sixth in the Pacific Division and are 4-7-2 at home this season.
On Tuesday against the Avalanche, the Preds top line of Filip Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro and James Neal all tallied points. The three players lead Nashville in scoring, with Forsberg in first (12g-15a-27pts), Ribeiro in second (8g-16a-24pts) and Neal in third (10g-6a-16pts).
With the game-winning goal and an assist on Tuesday, Forsberg recorded his ninth multi-point game of the season. The Swede continues to lead all NHL rookies in goals and points. Forsberg also paces the League in plus/minus (+23) and leads all rookie forwards in time on ice (17:20). His game-winner on Tuesday was his fourth of the season, tying him for the League lead in the category.
Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped all 26 shots thrown his way by the Avs, posting his third shutout and 18th win of the season. Rinne leads the League in victories this season, and his 1.81 goals-against average and .934 save percentage both rank among the NHL leaders.
Roman Josi, who was the Preds third choice, 38th overall (second round) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is set to appear in his 200th career game tonight. The Swiss blueliner has 11 points (2g-9a) in his last 14 contests and is second on the club in points by a defenseman with 14. Josi leads Nashville with 70 blocked shots.
Predators General Manager David Poile is now just one win away from tying and two wins from passing Harry Sinden for second on the NHL's all-time wins as a general manager list. Poile currently sits at 1,169 wins and is the third-longest tenured GM in NHL history, having spent 32-consecutive years at the helm of a franchise.
The Predators killed off all three Colorado power-play opportunities on Tuesday, the fourth-straight game they have recorded a perfect record on the penalty kill. In Nashville's last 15 games, the team had gone 32-for-35 on the PK, clicking at 88.8 percent.
Arizona currently sits 13th in the Western Conference, posting a 10-15-3 record overall, good for 23 points. The Coyotes have struggled as of late, going 2-6-2 in their last 10 outings and have lost three straight. Defenseman Keith Yandle leads the club in points with 19 (3g-16a), while Mikkel Boedker has potted nine goals for Arizona thus far. Goaltender Mike Smith, who has seen a bulk of the work for the Coyotes, is just 5-13-2 with a 3.27 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage.
Ribeiro played 80 games for the Coyotes last season, recording 47 points (16g-31a). In 41 career games agianst Arizona, Ribeiro has played at almost a point-per-game pace, tallying 40 points (9g-31a).
All-time, Nashville is 29-24-(3)-3 against the Coyotes and 11-4-(0)-3 as the visiting squad.
Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette on Ribeiro's return to Arizona:
"He’s truly a guy that I think has had a heavy hand in our success. He’s also a leader on our team. He’s worked hard and shown how things should work. I don’t think you get here with one goaltender or one guy, I think our guys in general have played hard and that’s shown in our results. We’ve got to keep going and he does too.”
Predators forward Derek Roy on Nashville's game plan:
“We know they have dangerous forwards, we just need to make sure we come out strong right off the bat and try to get the first goal. Then that’ll make them open up and hopefully it’ll create some more chances for us. That’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to go out and play hard in the first period.”
Morning Skate:(The Predators did not hold a morning skate on Thursday, below are their projected lines based on Wednesday's practice)
Projected Nashville Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal
Cullen - Fisher - Smith
Wilson - Jarnkrok - Jokinen
Nystrom - Roy - Bourque
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Ellis
Volchenkov - JonesProjected Coyotes Lines:
Boedker - Vermette - Doan
Rieder - Gagner - Korpikoski
Erat - Hanzal - Moss
McMillan - Vitale - Crombeen
Ekmann-Larson - Michalek
Yandle - Stone
Summers - Murphy