Coyotes-Predators Preview

The Phoenix Coyotes are mired in their longest losing streak of the season, but their latest defeat could have been worse.

The Coyotes will try to end a five-game slide Thursday night in their final road game as they meet the Nashville Predators, who have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Phoenix (36-28-15) fell 4-3 in overtime at Columbus on Tuesday but was headed for a regulation defeat before Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored with 15 seconds left in the third period to rescue a point.

"We got one point tonight and every point is huge for us," he said.

The Coyotes are seeking to catch Dallas for the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot. They host the Stars to close the season Sunday.

Phoenix totaled four goals over a 0-2-2 stretch prior to Tuesday. The Coyotes were feeling better about themselves after Martin Erat and Shane Doan scored first-period goals and the club finished with a 32 shots – its most since registering 33 in a loss to Boston on March 22.

"Pucks going to the net and finding a way in is what we were preaching and the first couple goals were a by-product of that so we’ll have to continue that moving forward," coach Dave Tippett said.

Top goalie Mike Smith missed his seventh straight game with a knee injury, but could return. Thomas Greiss has gone 2-2-3 with a 2.34 goals-against average in his place.

"He (Smith) skated this morning for awhile and we’ll practice (Wednesday) and he’ll practice and we’ll see where he’s at," Tippett said. "If not, Greiss has got to go in and do the job for us."

The Coyotes are enduring their longest slide since going 0-5-2 from March 14-27, 2013.

They didn’t receive any help Tuesday from Nashville (35-32-12), which saw its faint postseason hopes end with a 3-2 shootout defeat on the road versus the Stars. Gabriel Bourque had both goals as the Predators’ three-game win streak was snapped.

”Played some good hockey, feel like we got better through the season, so we can obviously hang our hat on that,” center Mike Fisher said. ”But it’s still disappointing.”

The Predators tied the game in the third period, but were largely outplayed in that frame as they were outshot 11-5 and had to kill off a two-man advantage for 1 minute, 38 seconds for the Stars.

"Kind of weathered their storm and I think after that, we fought hard. … We just couldn’t find a way to get the win," defenseman Shea Weber said.

Erat, who played for the Predators between 2001-13, will play his first game as a visitor in Nashville. He is second in franchise history with 163 goals, 481 points and 723 games.

Weber and the Coyotes’ Keith Yandle each have 53 points to rank among the leaders of NHL defensemen.

Nashville winger Patric Hornqvist came up empty in Dallas after amassing 14 points in a seven-game streak.

These teams have split two meetings, with the Predators missing an injured Pekka Rinne both times. Rinne is healthy now and his five shutouts against the Coyotes are his most versus any opponent.