The Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators each are banged up
as they fight for home-ice advantage in the first round of the
Western Conference playoffs.
Their goaltending has helped make up for any lost
Phoenix looks to match a season-high seven-game winning streak
Saturday night as it begins a five-game road trip in Nashville.
Despite Adrian Aucoin and Taylor Pyatt being scratched with
lower-back problems and Ed Jovanovski leaving in the second period
with an upper-body injury, the Coyotes rallied for a 4-3 win over
Atlanta on Thursday.
Shane Doan scored his first goal since Jan. 13 for Phoenix
(31-19-9), which can win seven straight for the second time this
season after accomplishing the feat Nov. 10-Nov. 23.
Jovanovski, who netted his only career hat trick in a 4-3 win
Nov. 3 against the Predators, was placed on injured reserve Friday.
Aucoin and Pyatt are hopeful they can play.
Keith Yandle had one of his three assists on Martin Hanzal’s
game-winner in the final minute of the second period Thursday.
“Guys came through with the game on the line,” Yandle said.
“Yes, we were down by a goal, but everyone came together and we
managed to pull it out.”
It took help from Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped all 11 shots he
faced in the third period and finished with 33 saves. He’s gone
6-0-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average during the winning streak,
helping the Coyotes move into first place in the Pacific
However, Bryzgalov is only 1-2-0 with a 3.35 GAA this season
against Nashville (31-19-8), which is overcoming its own setbacks
to remain in position for a top-four seed in the West.
Marcel Goc and Steve Sullivan went down with injuries in the
second period Thursday, and recently acquired Mike Fisher brushed
off a puck to the face to score a key goal as the Predators beat
Fisher, traded to Nashville from Ottawa on Feb. 10, netted his
first goal in three games with his new team after getting stitches
on his cheek.
With Goc and Sullivan out, coach Barry Trotz was left with 10
forwards. Sullivan, who has two goals and three assists in his last
five games against Phoenix, was hit in the face with a puck and
taken to a local hospital for tests.
“It was a potpourri of lines that you saw out there,” Trotz
Despite the juggled lines, the Predators held the opposition to
three goals or fewer for the 12th time in 13 games. They’ve given
up only two power-play goals in their opponents’ 32 chances over
the past nine and are near the top of the NHL in penalty kill
A big reason why they have been so good defensively is the solid
play of Pekka Rinne, who is 3-0-1 with a 1.73 GAA in his last four
starts. He made 35 saves Wednesday, two nights after making a
season-high 48 in a 2-1 overtime loss to San Jose.
He has a 1.74 GAA since Dec. 30, going 13-4-2.
Rinne is 6-2-1 with a 1.64 GAA in his career against Phoenix,
including a 3-0 home victory Nov. 30 and a 5-2 road win Jan.
J.P. Dumont had a hat trick in that most recent meeting, but he
hasn’t scored a goal in 10 games since. Patric Hornqvist scored
twice in that matchup and has three goals and an assist against the
Coyotes this season.
The Predators have won 10 of the last 12 meetings with the
Coyotes in Nashville.