By Amanda DiPaolo
Phoenix Coyotes – 31-19-9
Nashville Predators – 31-19-8
On Saturday night, the Nashville Predators end a four-game homestand when they host the Phoenix Coyotes. It’s hard to find another team in the NHL that resembles the Predators. The Coyotes have played one game more than Nashville. The teams have identical records with the exception of the Coyotes having one additional overtime loss than the Predators.
Both teams continue to lack a 20-goal scorer. Patric Hornqvist leads the Predators with 17 goals and Phoenix is led by former Predator’s forward, Scottie Upshall. The points leader on both teams are defensemen. Keith Yandle has 9 goals and 41 assists for 50 points. Predators’ Captain Shea Weber leads Nashville with 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points.
Phoenix has won their last six games. Nashville has points in six of their last 8 games. The Predators will try to cool off the red hot Coyotes who have taken over the lead in the extremely competitive Pacific Division. Saturday night’s meeting is the last of four games played between the Coyotes and Predators this season, with Nashville holding the season series 2-1.
Playing at Bridgestone Arena will help Nashville. Last time Phoenix was in town on November 30, Pekka Rinne stopped everything thrown his way and the Predators shutout the Coyotes 3-0.
In 22 games in Nashville against Phoenix, the Predators have a 14-6-(2)-1 record .
Nashville has picked up points in 81% of its home games and is tied with Vancouver for fewest goals against per game (2.29). The team has allowed only 52 non-shootout goals through 26 home game, a League-low 2.00 goals-against average. In 17 of their 26 home games, the tandem of Rinne and Anders Lindback have held the opposition to two goals or fewer in 17 games.
Mark Dekanich has been recalled from Milwaukee. While none of the Predators goaltenders are injured, Andres Lindback is down with the flu, according to Jim Diamond from The Examiner.
Thursday night’s game against Vancouver ended up being costly on the injury front. Mike Fisher left the game in the first period when he was hit in the face by a Ryan Suter slap shot. He got stitches and returned to the game. Steve Sullivan also got his in the face with a puck when a shot from David Legwand was deflected.
While Sullivan is probably for Saturday night, The Tennessean reported that Marcel Goc was placed on injured reserve on Friday.
Matthew Lombardi, Cal O’Reilly, and Francis Bouillon are still out for Nashville.
Injuries are beginning to pile up for Phoenix too. Kurt Sauer has been out of the lineup all season with a concussion. David Schlemko has a head injury that has kept him out of the lineup since January 18th. Ed Jovanovski has been placed on long term injured reserve and is out of the lineup for several weeks.
There are some question marks going into Saturday night’s battle. Kyle Turris has an undisclosed injury and did not play on Thursday. Adrian Aucoin and Taylor Pyatt both missed Thursday’s game with back issues. Their status, as of Friday evening, is unclear.
Tickets are still available for Saturday’s game. It starts at 7pm at Bridgestone Arena. After the game, the Predators hit the road for a Tuesday night matchup in Columbus before returning home to face the Blackhawks on Thursday night.
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