Coyotes-Predators Preview

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

production.

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

Division.

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

Vancouver 3-1.

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

said.

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

percentage (86.3).

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.

18.

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.