NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, February 2nd
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (33-18-5) at Nashville Predators (30-21-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes will be out to match their longest
winning streak of the season when one of the NHL's surprise teams skates into
Nashville's Sommet Center this evening for a key Western Conference showdown
with the host Predators.
Phoenix enters the Music City having won four straight contests and opened a
four-game road trip in fine fashion on Sunday, when Shane Doan and Peter
Mueller each recorded a goal and two assists to lead the way in a 4-2 decision
Keith Yandle added a goal and one assist to help support an excellent
performance from Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. The native Russian picked
up his career-best 29th victory of the season by stopping 38-of-40 shots.
"That was a heck of an effort by our guys," said Coyotes head coach Dave
Tippett. "We hung around the game for a long time and Bryz gave us some big
saves at the end that we needed. Our guys battled hard."
The win was especially promising considering Phoenix was forced to play
without forward Scottie Upshall, the club's leader with 18 goals this season.
The one-time Predator is sidelined indefinitely after tearing the ACL in his
right knee during Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Calgary.
The Coyotes will be counting on Doan to help offset Upshall's absence, and the
team captain has been coming through as of late. He was named the NHL's First
Star for the week ending on January 31 after amassing three goals and six
assists in the four Phoenix wins.
Phoenix was also minus Robert Lang in Sunday's game due to an undisclosed
injury. The veteran forward is one point shy of reaching 900 for his career.
The Coyotes, now 12-10-3 on the road this season, will be trying to duplicate
a five-game tear from November 27-December 7. Phoenix has lost in each of its
last three visits to the Sommet Center, however, as well as five of its past
seven overall matchups with Nashville.
Phoenix did best the Preds by a 4-2 score in Arizona on January 21, although
three of those goals came off the stick of Upshall.
That loss was part of a frustrating five-game losing streak for Nashville
which the team was able to end with Saturday's 4-3 home triumph over Atlanta.
Jason Arnott scored the tie-breaking goal just seven seconds into the third
period, while goaltender Pekka Rinne made the lead stand by making 10 of his
23 saves in the final frame.
Nashville had built a 3-1 advantage past the midway point of the second period
on goals from Joel Ward, Jerred Smithson and Martin Erat, but the Thrashers
scored twice within a span of 2:40 to tie the game heading into the final 20
The win kicked off a four-game homestand for the Predators, who will also take
on Colorado and San Jose on this challenging residency. Nashville has compiled
a 15-10-1 mark as the host so far this season.
02/02 10:34:36 ET