Arizona returns home from a brief road trip playing the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars in a back-to-back. The Coyotes shocked everyone by winning both games, beating the Wild 5-3 and the Stars 4-3 in overtime.
After a ten-game losing streak, the Coyotes have won their last two games and have points in their previous three. The Coyotes’ recent streak does mean they will finish at 31st in the league ahead of the Montréal Canadiens, meaning fans should have no reason not to want to see the Yotes win.
This season, the Coyotes have repeatedly shown that they will play to the end, even if they will not win. We are seeing that now with their last two wins, and we saw it Wednesday with the Coyotes’ three-goal comeback in the third period.
Luckily the Coyotes’ recent wins have been driven by players who will be staying in the desert. In their last game, three of the Coyotes’ four goals came from players signed for next season, Shayne Gostisbehere, Barrett Hayton, and Travis Boyd, which is undeniably good. Boyd and Jack McBain lit the lamp in the game before, and Gostisbehere had three assists.
The Coyotes are finishing the first year of their rebuild, and it is great to see young players like Hayton and McBain score. The Coyotes roster is full of young players who could prove to be the franchise’s future and need to learn to play the right way.
The Predators have secured their playoff spot, but don’t expect them to sit back. They overcame a 3-1 deficit after the first period last night against the Colorado Avalanche to force overtime and win in the shootout, and they are only one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for the first Wild Card spot.
Tonight will be one of the rare times this season that the Coyotes will face off against a team that takes more penalties than they do. Nashville leads the NHL with 1,024 penalty minutes over 81 games, 125 more than the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning and 193 more than the Coyotes.
Two heavily penalized teams facing off usually means that special teams will be a major factor tonight. Nashville is the favorite on paper with a top ten power play and 18th ranked penalty kill, but the Yotes’ have been great at killing penalties lately and scored with the man advantage against the Stars. Either way, don’t expect the cleanest hockey game tonight.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Anton Strålman - The pending unrestricted free agent has used his season with the Coyotes to show what he can do, and he has had a phenomenal end to his season. Strålman comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game point streak with two goals and three assists.
Nashville: Roman Josi - Jose had a goal and an assist in the Predators’ last game and comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game point streak. This season, he has three goals and three assists in two games against the Coyotes.
Arizona: Andrew Ladd (questionable, lower body), Jay Beagle (questionable, lower body), Dysin Mayo (questionable, upper body), Vladislav Kolyachonok (upper body), Nick Ritchie (upper body), Clayton Keller (leg), Lawson Crouse (hand), Christian Fischer (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (ankle), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Nashville: Juuse Saros (leg), Jeremy Lauzon (leg)
Tonight’s game will be at 7:30 pm Arizona time and will be the final game at Gila River Arena. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and on 98.7 FM.