Nashville Predators at Arizona Coyotes
When and Where: Thursday, Oct. 17, Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ariz., 10:05 p.m. EDT.
The Nashville Predators are expected to turn to Pekka Rinne to help them snap out of their desert doldrums in Arizona when they face the Coyotes on Thursday night to complete a three-game road swing.
Rinne looks to maintain perfect startNashville (4-2-0) has won all four games Rinne has been between the pipes, with the veteran Finnish goaltender conceding 11 goals and posting a .908 save percentage. He shook off a tough first period to stop all 17 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes Tuesday night and finished with 33 saves in helping the Predators down the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2.
Pekka Rinne makes a couple of big saves after the Vegas power play expires. pic.twitter.com/IO8eua0rqk— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) October 16, 2019
"He worked and battled and just stayed with it," coach Peter Laviolette told The Associated Press about Rinne, who is fourth among active goaltenders with 345 wins. "He had to keep fighting for things. They fire a lot of pucks at the net and that keeps you needing to be on your toes all the time and he was strong. He gave us a chance, especially early on.
"It maybe could have been 3-1 or 4-1, it may have been hard to climb out of, so the fact we were able to be down just one going into the second period, and we turned things around pretty quick and that was real positive. He was terrific."
Filip Forsberg, who scored his team-leading fifth goal and has tallied in all but one of Nashville's first six games, is day-to-day after suffering what is believed to be a lower-body injury in the third period of the win over Vegas. Forsberg has a point in all six games, matching the franchise record set by Marek Zidlicky at the start of a season.
Rinne is 19-9-2 lifetime versus Arizona and made 24 saves in his most recent matchup, a 5-2 victory Feb. 25. The Predators, though, are 1-3-2 in their last six games in Arizona, where Rinne is 7-5-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average lifetime.
Matt Duchene is looking to start a new point streak after being held off the scoresheet for the first time. He has team-highs of seven assists and nine points but has registered just two assists in his last six games against the Coyotes.
'Yotes look to run point streak to four gamesArizona (2-2-1) has five points from its last three games after posting a 4-2 victory at Winnipeg on Tuesday night to take three of a possible four points from a two-game road swing.
The power play finally clicked for the Coyotes, who converted both chances after failing to do so nine times over the first four games. Christian Dvorak and Nick Schmaltz scored the man-advantage goals 2:10 apart in the second period, and Dvorak tallied again later in the period.
"We played a pretty good game; we came out strong in the second and that's what we needed to do," Connor Garland told the Coyotes' official website. "The power play got clicking, it looked good in Colorado too, so that's going to be huge if we can keep that up."
The 23-year-old Dvorak, who scored 15 goals in each of his first two seasons in the league, had just two goals in 20 games in 2018-19 after missing the first 62 with a wrist injury.
Darcy Kuemper, who made 38 saves, likely will get a second straight start as he seeks to extend his personal winning streak to three games. He gave the Predators fits in his only start against them last season, turning aside 45 shots in a 2-1 home victory Nov. 15.
Kuemper is 4-2-1 with a 2.44 GAA and .920 save percentage lifetime versus Nashville. Dating back to last season, Kuemper has allowed two or fewer goals in his last 11 starts while posting a 5-4-2 record, 1.30 GAA and .959 save percentage. That streak matches the club record set by Nikolai Khabibulin from Oct. 15-Nov. 28, 1998.
The Coyotes will be without top defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for a significant spell after he cracked his fibula stopping a shot in Saturday's overtime loss at Colorado. Fellow blue liner Jordan Oesterle left Tuesday's game midway through the third period after blocking a shot but is expected to be available for this contest.
The Predators are:
- 14-2 in their last 16 Thursday games.
- 20-6 in their last 26 games vs. Pacific Division teams.
- 6-2 in their last eight games vs. Western Conference teams.
The Coyotes are:
- 0-5 in their last five games following a win.
- 3-8 in their last 11 games as an underdog.
- 3-11 in their last 14 games when their opponent scores five or more in its previous game.