NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 14th (All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (33-30-5) at Phoenix Coyotes (28-34-6), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Mired in an untimely three-game losing streak, the Nashville Predators will be vying to get back on track when they take on the sliding Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena.
Nashville's skid comes immediately after the club ripped off a season-best six consecutive victory that propelled the Predators back into playoff contention. Nashville is currently tied with Minnesota for ninth place in the competitive Western Conference, but both teams trail Edmonton and Dallas by only one point in the race for the final two postseason seeds.
The Predators returned home from a March 7 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday and were edged in overtime by Washington, then dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting New York Rangers on Thursday.
Nashville's last two losses came without the services of goaltender Pekka Rinne, the NHL's Rookie of the Month for February. The 26-year-old missed both games due to illness, but is expected to be available for tonight's tilt.
Center Jason Arnott, the Preds' leader with 27 goals, will likely sit out a second straight contest with an upper-body injury, however.
Dan Ellis made 28 saves for Nashville in Thursday's setback, while Shea Weber and J.P. Dumont had the team's goals. Ryan Suter assisted on Weber's tally to extend his scoring streak to five straight games.
Nashville plays the first test of a four-game Western swing this evening and will be attempting to improve upon a lackluster 12-18-2 road record.
The Coyotes have produced a respectable 17-13-2 home ledger thus far in 2008-09, but Wayne Gretzky's squad has been in a serious tailspin during the season's second half. Phoenix has lost four in a row and seven of its last eight games and is a horrid 4-15-1 since the All-Star break.
Phoenix's latest defeat came Thursday at New Jersey, where the Devils cruised to a 5-2 win behind 26 saves from Martin Brodeur.
Scottie Upshall and Steven Reinprecht had the goals for the Coyotes, who closed out a five-game road trip and finished 1-3-1 on the trek. Goaltender Josh Tordjman recorded 31 saves in his second career NHL start.
Upshall has been on fire since being acquired by Phoenix in a March 4 trade with Philadelphia, as the former first-round pick has notched three goals in five games with his new team.
These teams faced off in Nashville on February 26, with the Predators delivering a 4-1 victory. The Coyotes have lost in four of their five most recent matchups with Nashville, but did defeat the Preds in Glendale by a 2-1 count back on December 18.
03/14 11:22:31 ET