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Coyotes Game 54 Preview: Coyotes finish road trip against the Predators

The Arizona Coyotes look to finish their road trip off on a high-note.

Arizona Coyotes v Nashville Predators Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Game Preview

The Arizona Coyotes are set to finish a three-game road trip and are looking for their first win. Arizona came close in their last two matchups but fell in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

Despite the outcomes, there is much to appreciate about the Coyotes’ last two outings. They started on time with two early goals and hit the rare three-goal plateau in both matchups. Unfortunately, both times that third goal came after allowing their opponents to score multiple times to go from being down 2-0 to taking the lead.

The Coyotes need to find a way to get it done, even if it means being without their best defensemen. The Coyotes elected to sit Jakob Chychrun on Saturday, and may again tonight if he isn’t traded by puck drop, and the Yotes will be without Shayne Gostisbehere for a few more weeks. Hopefully, this will be a good opportunity for younger defensemen like J.J. Moser, Juuso Välimäki, and Victor Söderström to show what they can do.

It has been a long time since the Arizona Coyotes and Nashville Predators last met. The Coyotes visited Nashville in late November, midway through their 14-game road trip, in a game that saw them fall 4-3 in the shootout.

While the Coyotes have a clear path in front of them, the Predators’ future is unknown. They are currently four points out of the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with two games in hand. That is not an impossible gap to overcome, but whether or not they are buyers or sellers will depend on how they play over the next month.

The Predators have played two games since the All-Star Break. In their first game back, they fell 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights last Tuesday but managed to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in the shootout on Saturday.

If you can’t tell from the scores, the Predators don’t score a lot of goals this season. They are 26th in goals scored per game, just two spots above the Arizona Coyotes.

That’s not to say the Predators don’t have any offensive weapons. Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and Matt Duchene lead the Preds with 43, 42, and 41 points, respectively, but there is a fairly sharp drop from there.

But the Predators are much better defensively. They are getting solid goaltending from Juuse Saros and Kevin Lankinen and are 13th in goals allowed per game. They also have a solid penalty kill, ranked 11th in the NHL, killing 80.7 percent of penalties.

It will be important for the Coyotes to start on time and keep up the pressure tonight. Tonight is likely a low-scoring affair, so an early goal could prove to be the difference maker.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz - Schmaltz had a goal and three assists against the Blues and a goal and an assist against the Blackhawks on Friday. He comes into tonight’s game with 34 points in 37 games this season.

Nashville: Matt Duchene - Duchene had a goal and an assist in the Predators’ last game and comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game point streak. It’s a bit of a drop from the 43 goals and 43 assists he had last season, but respectable numbers from the 32-year-old center.

Injuries

Arizona: Liam O’Brien (questionable, upper body), Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)

Nashville: Filip Forsberg (questionable, upper body), Alexandre Carrier (upper body), Mark Borowiecki (upper body)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be in Nashville at 6:00 pm Arizona time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 98.7 FM.