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Coyotes Game 65 Preview: Coyotes play the Predators for second time in two weeks

The Arizona Coyotes' four-game homestand comes to an end with a match against the Nashville Predators.

Nashville Predators v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

General Manager Bill Armstrong may have stripped down the Arizona Coyotes’ roster, but that doesn’t mean they will go down without a fight. The Coyotes may have given up the first goal to the St. Louis Blues just over two minutes into Tuesday’s game, but they finished with a 6-2 win.

Four of the six goals were in the third period, with three coming in the last ten minutes of the game. The Coyotes have tended to finish games strong this season, usually because they are looking to make up a deficit, and it is great to see that aspect of the team survive the trade deadline.

A crucial part of the Coyotes’ win was their special teams. The Coyotes scored on one of their two power plays, with Nick Schmaltz recording his 20th of the season, and they were a perfect six for six on the penalty kill. Of course, the fact that they had to kill six penalties is concerning, but that has been a problem for the Coyotes all season.

Along with the six players with multiple points, the Coyotes benefitted from some solid goaltending from Karel Vejmelka. Vejmelka made 40 saves on 42 shots, including eight shots on the penalty kill. Vejmelka hasn’t been the most consistent netminder this season, but it is nice that a member of General Manager Bill Armstrong’s core can still steal a game.

The Nashville Predators had a busy trade deadline and have changed a lot since they played the Coyotes last Sunday. Out are Nino Niederreiter, Tanner Jeannot, Mattias Ekholm, and Mikael Granlund, and in are Cal Foote, Tyson Barrie, Rasmus Asplund, and multiple picks and prospects.

But like the Coyotes, the trades have yet to result in an immediate drop in performance. Instead, the Predators ride into tonight riding a three-game point streak, having beaten the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks, and falling to the Vancouver Canucks this past Monday.

The Predators came back from a 3-1 deficit on Monday to force the game to overtime and eventually the shootout. Luke Evangelista was the game’s hero, scoring his first two goals in just his fourth NHL game after spending the season with the Nashville Predators.

Players like Evangelista are what make this time of year exciting for tanking teams. There are plenty of roster spots available for AHL call-ups giving you a chance to see what could be the future.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Lawson Crouse - Crouse set a new career high with his 21st goal against the Blues and comes into tonight’s game riding a three-game point streak. He also just needs one more point to set a new career high in points and one more assist to match his previous career high of 14.

Nashville: Tyson Barrie - Barrie has played in three games since being acquired by the Predators, and he has points in two of them. The veteran defenseman has 45 points on the season, including two assists against the Coyotes when he was still a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Injuries

Arizona: Brett Ritchie (visa), Jakub Voráček (concussion), Shea Weber (ankle), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)

Nashville: Philip Tomasino (questionable, upper body), Alexandre Carrier (upper body), Juuso Pärssinen (leg), Filip Forsberg (upper body), Mark Borowiecki (upper body)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 98.7 FM.