The Predators look to extend their season-high road winning streak to six games while trying for a fourth consecutive victory over the Coyotes on Thursday night.
Nashville (29-17-3) and Phoenix (28-17-5) each have 61 points, and are in the thick of the playoff race, making them two of the Western Conference’s biggest surprises this season. It’s been the Predators, however, who are playing better of late, especially on the road.
Nashville is 15-7-2 away from home and in the midst of its longest road winning stretch since a seven-game streak from Oct. 16-Nov. 4, 2006.
That likely doesn’t bode well for the Coyotes, who lost for the fourth time in six games, 7-2 at home to Buffalo on Monday.
Nashville has totaled 15 goals during its road winning streak, but will need a better effort on defense than in its last outing to continue that run. Pekka Rinne(notes) was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots Monday in a 4-3 home loss to Toronto.
Ellis has a 1.25 goals-against average while winning three of his last four starts. He’s 2-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA all-time against the Coyotes.
Nashville’s Ryan Jones(notes) scored for the third time in four games, but Patric Hornqvist(notes) was held scoreless after posting goals in each of his previous two games. Hornqvist has scored 10 of his career and team-high 19 goals on the road.
The Predators outscored the Coyotes 9-4 while winning three of four last season. Rinne stopped 18 shots in a 2-0 win during Nashville’s last visit to Arizona on March 14.
After scoring 10 times in consecutive wins over New Jersey and Minnesota, Phoenix mustered four shots in the first period against the Sabres, and fell to 2-2-1 on its season-high six-game homestand.
“It’s troubling, let’s not sugarcoat it,” Coyotes first-year coach Dave Tippett said.
Tippett’s bigger concern, however, might be the play of star Ilya Bryzgalov(notes), who was taken out Monday after giving up three goals on 13 shots. Though Bryzgalov is 25-13-4 with a 2.32 GAA, he’s allowed 25 goals while going 3-3-0 in his last seven starts.
“Stops he was making earlier in the year he just isn’t able to get right now,” Tippett said of Bryzgalov, who’s 3-3-2 with a 2.86 GAA versus Nashville. “We need to keep working with him. He’s just like the rest of our group. He needs to play better.”
Radim Vrbata(notes) scored his team-leading 16th goal and Shane Doan(notes) added his 14th in the loss to the Northeast Division leader. Vrbata and Doan each have a goal in two straight games, but neither has a point in their last three against Nashville.