By Dave Vest | Anthony Perez
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to seven games tonight when they play the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in the first game of a five-game road trip. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (31-19-9) sits in first place in the Pacific Division standings and in third place in the Western Conference standings with 71 points. San Jose is just one point back in the division with 70 points, while the Los Angeles Kings are in last place, but just three points behind with 68.
This will be the fourth and final meeting between the Coyotes and Predators this season. Phoenix is 1-2-0 in the season series and has lost the last two games, including a 5-2 decision on Jan. 18 in Glendale.
The Coyotes will play without defenseman Ed Jovanovski
, who suffered a facial injury in Thursday's game and was placed on the injured reserve list on Friday.
With Jovanovski sidelined and Adrian Aucoin
nursing a lower-body injury, the Coyotes on Saturday recalled defenseman Nolan Yonkman
from the American Hockey League and sent center Kyle Turris to the AHL (see DID YOU KNOW?
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov
will make his 18th consecutive start for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov has stopped 160 of the 169 shots he has faced during the winning streak for a .946 save percentage.
Both the Coyotes and Predators play a defense-first style of hockey and rely on offensive help throughout their lineups. Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler
said the key to beating his former team is to not abandon the defensive style of play that’s helped them win six straight.
“We have similar identities,” Fiddler said. “We’re hard-working teams that try not to give a whole bunch of offense up, so it always seems to be low-scoring games. It’s not run-and-gun, but they’re always interesting games and you’re definitely into it from the drop of the puck.”
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal
has scored two goals in his last two games, including the game-winning goal in Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Atlanta.
|Photo by Getty Images.
“It’s always nice when you score, especially two goals in three nights, but we have a hard game coming up in Nashville and it’s going to be tough,” Hanzal said. “They’re one point behind us in the standings. It’s going to be a huge game for us.”
Nashville (31-19-8) will enter the game in fourth place in the Western Conference standings with 70 points. The Preds are 3-0-1 in their past four games including a 3-1 win over Vancouver on Thursday.
Defenseman Shea Weber leads Nashville with 25 assists and 36 points.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne is having an outstanding season and will enter the game ranked second in the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against average, second with a .931 save percentage and tied for eighth with four shutouts.
The Preds recently acquired center Mike Fisher in a trade with Ottawa. Fisher has notched a goal and an assist in his first three games with Nashville.