The Coyotes won’t be able to rely on Upshall’s heroics in the rematch.
Phoenix looks to press on without Upshall, out with a serious knee injury, and win its fifth straight game Tuesday night when it visits Nashville.
Prior to Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Dallas in coach Dave Tippett’s return to Texas, the Coyotes (33-18-5) announced that Upshall is out indefinitely with a torn ACL in his right knee. He injured himself in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over Calgary, and the club said surgery will be necessary to repair the tear.
Upshall’s stellar play is a big reason Phoenix is fourth in the Western Conference with 71 points. The 26-year-old right wing leads the team with 18 goals and ranks fourth on the club with 32 points.
While Upshall, originally drafted by Nashville in 2002, has come up with several big goals this season, none were bigger than the ones he scored against his former team Jan. 21. Entering the third period with the Predators leading 2-1, Upshall turned the game around with three goals in just over 10 minutes to record his first career hat trick and lead Phoenix to a 4-2 win.
Although Upshall will be missed, the Coyotes appear to have several other players that can carry the offense in his absence. Shane Doan(notes) and Radim Vrbata(notes) each have 17 goals, and both scored Sunday in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The Coyotes have won seven of nine and are trying to win five straight games for the first time since Nov. 27-Dec. 7. They also need one more victory on this trip to match last season’s win total away from Phoenix, when they had the league’s second-worst road record at 13-24-4. The Coyotes are 12-10-3 on the road this season.
Phoenix hasn’t had much success in Nashville, though, losing three straight at the Sommet Center and eight of nine there.
The Predators (30-21-3) snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Atlanta on Saturday. This skid included the loss in Phoenix two weeks ago.
Nashville had been limited to just 10 goals during the slide, despite outshooting its opponents in each game. The Predators outshot the Coyotes 43-23.
Arnott, who led Nashville with 33 goals last season, has been to blame for some of the team’s offensive woes, scoring only two goals in his last 18 games.
Pekka Rinne(notes) made 23 saves Saturday for his first victory since Jan. 12. Rinne has been shaky in net lately, yielding three goals in five of his last six starts, but he was outstanding in three starts against the Coyotes last season, posting a 0.67 goals-against average and winning all three games - one with a shutout.
Dan Ellis(notes) has been alternating in goal with Rinne and got the nod against the Coyotes two weeks ago, stopping 19 shots. Ellis, who is 0-3-0 with a 3.24 GAA in his last three games, is 2-2-0 with a 2.74 GAA in four career starts against Phoenix.
The Coyotes’ Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) made 38 saves Sunday, improving to 29-14-4 and establishing a career high for victories in a season. He stopped a season-high 41 shots against the Predators two weeks ago and is 4-3-2 with a 2.77 GAA against them in his career.