NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 7th (All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (46-28-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (48-25-6), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Bankruptcy and ownership issues left many wondering how long hockey would be around in Phoenix. A victory Wednesday night and the playoffs will begin with a game at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes will try to lock up the Western Conference's fourth seed tonight when they host one of the team's chasing them for that spot, the Nashville Predators, in a possible first-round playoff series preview.
Phoenix has set club records this year with 102 points and 48 wins, but with San Jose having already won the Pacific Division the Coyotes can finish no higher than fourth in the conference standings. That spot, though, does give home-ice advantage in the playoff's opening round and Phoenix can secure the seed this evening with a win.
The Coyotes have three games left in the regular season, two of those on the road, including tonight and own a four-point edge over the fifth-seeded Predators with a game in hand. Sixth-place Los Angeles is five points back with three games remaining as well.
Matthew Lombardi had the shootout's lone goal on Saturday and it came in the eighth round. Ilya Bryzgalov made 25 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping all eight skaters he faced in the deciding frame, giving Phoenix its sixth straight win at home.
Lombardi scored in regulation and Daniel Winnik had the other goal for the Coyotes, who had dropped four of five coming into the contest.
"We didn't start as well as we should...but we still found a way to get two points," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.
Phoenix is 28-10-2 at home this season and ends its season with road games at Los Angeles and San Jose.
The Predators will try to keep their chances at the fourth seed alive tonight after a big 4-3 overtime win at Detroit on Saturday clinched their trip to the playoffs. Ryan Suter scored 16 seconds into the frame after the Red Wings forced overtime on a goal with only 36.4 ticks left in the third period.
"They score with 40 seconds left in the game, and you don't want to get in [with an overtime loss]," said Suter, who also had an assist. "It wouldn't feel good on the way home. For us to come out and finish it out was good for us."
Shea Weber, Martin Erat and J.P. Dumont all scored and Joel Ward had two assists for Nashville, which has won 10 of its last 13 overall and five straight on the road. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves.
The victory was Nashville's 23rd this year on the road, matching a club record set by the 2006-07 club. It came in Barry Trotz's 900th game as Nashville's coach and he became just the sixth coach in league history to reach the mark with one team. He also matched Scotty Bowman for sixth on the NHL's all-time list for victories with a single team. Bowman also had 410 victories with Detroit.
The Predators, who host the Blues on Saturday in their final regular season game this year, could have captain Jason Arnott back tonight. He has missed the last eight games with a concussion.
The Coyotes are 2-0-1 in three games versus the Preds this year, but have lost six of the last nine in the series overall. However, Phoenix has won six of its last eight at home versus Nashville.
04/07 10:57:22 ET