Heading in opposite directions, Predators and Coyotes face off


The Nashville Predators will look to continue their recent surge when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

The Predators, coming off a 4-1-1 trip, make a stop at home to play the struggling Coyotes before going back on the road for three games.

Nashville, 7-1-1 in its past nine games, rallied from a 2-0 deficit after one period to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in overtime on Thursday. Matt Duchene had two goals – including the game-winner – and an assist.

“It’s great. Nothing bothers us,” Duchene said. “We were down 2-0 after the first. They were taking it to us and dominating the game really. We don’t ever get too low or too high. We have fun playing. It’s a very different vibe now. We keep our heads down and stay tight.”

Duchene had six goals and three assists on the trip and leads Nashville with eight goals.

“We’ve been doing a lot of good things, and obviously Dutchy, he’s doing a lot of good things, the way he’s shooting the puck and finding the net,” teammate Mikael Granlund said. “That’s great, and he keeps shooting and the puck is just finding its way to the net right now.”

Granlund had four assists against St. Louis and has 13 overall.

Goalie David Rittich made 33 saves in his Nashville debut Friday. Juuse Saros, who is 6-4-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .925 save percentage, has allowed two goals or less in his past six starts and likely will face Arizona.

After a five-goal outburst in a win over the expansion Seattle Kraken on Nov. 6, the Coyotes’ offensive woes have returned as they have scored a combined three goals in the past two games.

The Coyotes, whose only win this season came against the Kraken, continue to rank last in the NHL in goals (22) and first in most goals allowed (56). Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere leads Arizona in points with 11 (two goals, nine assists) and Lawson Crouse has four goals.

Arizona’s power play ranks 29th in the league, and its penalty killers rank 30th.

In the first of back-to-back games, Arizona lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Friday night, the beginning of three Central Division games in five days for the Coyotes.

Andrew Ladd scored his second goal in as many games for Arizona, which had a late power play but could not convert. Scott Wedgewood made 27 saves in his first start of the season.

“I liked our work ethic. I liked the way we worked,” coach Andre Tourigny said. “Were we gritty? Maybe not up to our standards. I think we can do a little bit more. But at the same time, we work hard. I’m not finding any problems with our work ethic.”

Arizona fell to 0-8-1 away from home after dropping the opener of a three-game trip.

The Coyotes did get some good news as center Alex Galchenyuk made his season debut after missing the first 13 games with an upper-body injury suffered during training camp. Kyle Capobianco also made his season debut and picked up an assist.

“I think we’ve grown a lot,” Capobianco said. “I think we’re finding our game now, starting to compete, really dictate games and put pressure on other teams. Hopefully we’ll get more wins.”

–Field Level Media

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