Coyotes look to start new win streak against Predators
By MATT BECKER
STATS Senior Writer
Despite seeing their longest winning streak of the season come to an end, the Phoenix Coyotes still had little trouble finding the back of the net.
The Nashville Predators have had no such luck lately.
The Coyotes look to bounce back from their first defeat in nearly three weeks Tuesday night when they visit a Predators team trying to avoid losing its fifth in a row.
Phoenix (11-6-5) seemed poised to extend its winning streak to eight games Saturday, leading Anaheim 3-1 early in the second period, but the Ducks scored five consecutive goals and went on to hand the Coyotes a 6-4 loss. Lauri Korpikoski and Scottie Upshall each had a goal and assist for Phoenix, which lost for the first time since Nov. 8.
"Our execution wasn't as good as it needed to be," coach Dave Tippett said.
Although Ilya Bryzgalov wasn't sharp, stopping only 19 shots after posting a 2.14 goals-against average in winning his previous six starts, the offense still seemed solid.
The Coyotes, now starting a stretch in which they play nine of 12 away from Arizona, scored four or more goals for the third time in four games. They've totaled 29 goals in their last seven.
The Predators (9-8-5) are likely envious of those totals.
Nashville, coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night, has four goals during its four-game skid and five regulation goals in its last five.
The Predators have struggled to take advantage of their scoring opportunities, converting 2 of 23 on the power play in their last seven games. Steve Sullivan, Nashville's leader with six goals, has scored twice in his last 19 contests.
"Our guys are putting out a real hard effort, it's just not coming real easy," coach Barry Trotz said. "You just have to be mentally strong. You don't want to get consumed with it."
Nashville's lack of offense has made things difficult for its goaltenders.
Pekka Rinne finished with 23 saves Saturday, bouncing back nicely from a disappointing performance in a 5-2 loss to Minnesota on Friday, when he stopped just six of nine shots and was pulled after one period.
Rinne, who has yielded two goals or fewer in five of his last six starts, stopped 24 shots in a 4-3 loss in Phoenix on Nov. 3.
The Coyotes entered the third period of that game trailing 3-2 before Lee Stempniak tied the score on a power-play goal at 1:09 and Ed Jovanovski completed a hat trick with the go-ahead score three minutes later. It was the first three-goal game of Jovanovski's 15-year career and the first by a defenseman in franchise history.
Bryzgalov stopped 28 shots in that victory and has been in net for all five games against the Predators since the start of last season, going 4-0-1 with a 1.94 GAA. He's 5-0-2 on the road this season.
Rinne is 1-2-1 with a 2.66 GAA and one shutout in his last four starts against the Coyotes.