Arizona may be forced to start Hill in Nashville
If starter Antti Raanta can’t recover from a lower-body injury that knocked him out of a 4-3 win Tuesday night in Minnesota, backup Adin Hill would make his first start of the season and just the fifth start of his NHL career Thursday night against the Predators in Bridgestone Arena.
Hill, who stopped five third period shots to pick up the win over the Wild, is 2-3-0 in six NHL games with a 3.04 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage. The 6-6, 202-pound Hill is just 22 years old and is coming off his own lower-body injury that recently cost him four weeks of playing time in the minors.
“It’s the NHL, so each game for me is still very exciting and fun,” Hill said. “But I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable here now and I think I’m adjusting to the pace a bit more with every game.”
Hill was called up from Arizona’s AHL affiliate in Tucson when Coyotes backup Darcy Kuemper fell victim to his own lower-body injury that will keep him out until at least Saturday, when St. Louis visits Gila River Arena.
Given the circumstances, Arizona’s rally in Minnesota might have constituted its best win of the season. Trailing 3-1 with their starting goalie out, the Coyotes’ 30th-ranked offense produced three third period goals against the normally solid Devan Dubnyk to steal two points, Josh Archibald supplying the winning goal at 8:39.
“I like the resiliency,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “A couple of guys were struggling early and we kind of regained ourselves in the third, so that’s nice. When you’re down 3-1 going into the third period, hopefully in an 82-game schedule you’re going to win some of those.”
It was the first win for the Coyotes (10-11-2) since a 2-1 decision over Nashville on Nov. 15 in Glendale. While they’ve had the Predators’ number in the desert, winning five of their last six meetings at home, Arizona hasn’t come out of Music City with a win since March 28, 2013, when it was still known as the Phoenix Coyotes.
Nashville (17-7-1) is coming off a 3-2 loss Tuesday night to Colorado that snapped two lengthy winning streaks. The Predators entered the match with six straight home victories and 11 consecutive wins over the Avalanche, but failed to extend those streaks despite a 38-25 advantage in shots on goal.
“I thought that we had enough chances to win the game,” Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said, “but I have to give them credit. Their power play was very effective tonight. It’s a good team. Obviously, it’s disappointing when it’s a division game and you come up short and it’s played at home, but we battled until the end and just couldn’t get the tying goal.”
It’s the third game in a five-game homestand for the Predators, which still lead the Central Division by three points over Colorado.