Coyotes at Predators
The Nashville Predators have struggled to find offense after registering two goals in their last three games. On Thursday, the Predators will host the Phoenix Coyotes, who have their own issues finding the net. The Coyotes averaged two goals per game over their last five - but won four of them on the strength of goaltender Mike Smith, who posted two shutouts. Phoenix captain Shane Doan snapped a seven-game scoring drought with three points in a 3-2 overtime win against Colorado on Monday. Leading scorer Radim Vrbata has two assists in his last five games, leaving the Coyotes searching for consistency in their scoring.
The Predators are in even more trouble, sitting last in the league with 23 goals in 13 games. Their leading scorer is Colin Wilson with eight points. Wilson also leads the team with four goals. Nashville trails the rest of the league in shots with 278. In 13 games, the Predators are averaging under 22 shots per contest. Captain Shea Weber leads Nashville with 28 shots but has yet to score this season. Goaltender Pekka Rinne made 25 saves on Tuesday for his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 overtime win against San Jose. The Finn has a .934 save percentage in 11 starts.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Tennessee
ABOUT THE COYOTES (6-5-2): Smith allowed six goals in 35 minutes in a loss to Chicago last Thursday, but otherwise appears to have recovered from a shaky start to the season where he allowed 10 goals in the first two games. Vrbata has 11 points while Mikkel Boedker and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson are tied with eight. Steve Sullivan hasn’t recorded a point in six games since scoring a four goals in two games.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (6-3-4): Defenseman Scott Hannan leads the team with 31 blocked shots and four other Nashville players (Kevin Klein, Mike Fisher, Roman Josi and Weber) have at least 22 on the season. Patric Hornqvist, who has four points in five games and would provide a needed boost to team scoring, has resumed skating but is still for out at least another week with a knee injury. Martin Erat, who has seven points, has been held off the scoresheet in four straight games in eight of his last nine contests.
1. The Coyotes defeated Nashville 4-0 in Phoenix on Jan. 28. Chad Johnson made 21 saves for a shutout in his first start as a member of the Coyotes.
2. Doan is five points away from reaching 800 in his career.
3. Phoenix, which has won its last three regular-season visits to Nashville, defeated the Predators in five games in the Western Conference second round last season.
PREDICTION: Coyotes 1, Predators 0