Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/28/13

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 21: Martin Erat #10 of the Nashville Predators during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 21, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes eliminated the Nashville Predators on their way to the Western Conference finals last season, but it's starting to look like merely qualifying for the postseason this spring might be a stretch. The Coyotes attempt to avoid their longest losing streak in 19 years Thursday night while the Predators look to continue damaging Phoenix's playoff chances by sweeping this four-game homestand. The Coyotes (13-15-5) ousted the Predators (14-13-6) in five games during the second round of the playoffs last year before falling in the conference finals, but even having a chance to return to the NHL's postseason tournament is looking dicey. Phoenix is tied with Edmonton for 12th in the West, five points back of San Jose and St. Louis for the final two playoff positions. The Coyotes' chances have been hurt by an 0-5-2 skid during which they've totaled eight goals. They haven't endured a longer slide since tying a franchise record with 10 straight losses as the Winnipeg Jets from Feb. 6-25, 1994. The latest defeat may have been the most difficult to take. Phoenix rallied from two goals down to take a 3-2 lead Wednesday at Minnesota but gave up the tying goal with 54.3 seconds to go in regulation before falling 4-3 in overtime. "We battled back for a point, but the reality is in our situation we need more than one point. ... When you continue to find ways to give points away, it's very frustrating," coach Dave Tippett said. Things have been made more difficult with a head injury to goaltender Mike Smith, one of the catalysts behind last year's playoff run. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, retroactive to March 21, and there's no timetable for his return. That could mean a third consecutive start for Jason LaBarbera, who is 0-4-1 with a 3.22 goals-against average in five starts this season. He had 33 saves Wednesday. "It's about as big of a kick to the nuts as you're going to get. I felt like we were going to win that game," LaBarbera said. The veteran backup has won his last three visits to Nashville behind a 1.67 GAA, but Chad Johnson might not be a bad option should Tippett decide to give LaBarbera a rest. He's made only two starts this season, but stopped 21 shots in a 4-0 win over the Coyotes on Jan. 28 Whichever goaltender gets the call will have to be sharp when Martin Erat and Mike Fisher are on the ice. Erat, who leads the Predators with 20 points, has a goal and six assists during Nashville's three straight home wins - including two assists in Monday's 3-2 victory over Edmonton. It seems he may be in for another productive performance since he has five assists over the past three regular-season home meetings with Phoenix, including two in a 3-0 victory Feb. 14. Fisher scored on one of those assists by Erat, and he has 14 points in 14 career regular-season matchups. He has five goals and three assists during a seven-game point streak. Fisher hasn't put together a longer streak since a career-high nine-game run from Dec. 23, 2007-Jan. 12, 2008, with Ottawa. Including the final two meetings in Nashville during the playoff series, Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is 2-1-0 with a 0.34 GAA in his last three home starts against the Coyotes.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Reports: Sale cut up throwback uniforms with knife in protest

WNBA withdraws fines for teams that protested gun violence

Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Evil NEVER prevails’

Orioles, Padres reportedly talking trades of Melvin Upton, Cashner

Le’Veon Bell reportedly missed ‘several’ drug tests

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Islanders looking at locations to build new arena

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with hip-hop star Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

RUMOR: Celtics sign Green, Zeller and two others to contract deals

Kevin Durant Thunder jerseys going for less than 50 cents in OKC

Solo not taking any chances with Zika virus while in Rio

Rays reportedly demanding Profar in pitching deal with Rangers

Facebook doesn’t know the difference between Liverpool and Arsenal

Report: Teams asked about Wade Davis, asking price very high

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

Orioles affiliate pay tribute to David Bowie on their jerseys

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker