Predators-Coyotes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 11, 2012
The Nashville Predators ended their homestand with consecutive wins, and they hope it provides them with some momentum as they begin a challenging portion of their schedule. The Predators begin a four-game road trip against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night. Nashville moved within four points of fourth-place Detroit in the Western Conference with a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Saturday. The Predators (40-21-7) took four of a possible six points on their homestand and have gone 6-2-1 in their last nine games - seven coming at home. Taking advantage of the home-heavy stretch in its schedule was admittedly important for Nashville. It plays eight of its next 10 on the road, including the next four over a seven-day stretch. "Whenever you're at home you want to come out and win," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We wanted to get the two points and hopefully now we can take that momentum on the road with us." Andrei Kostitsyn scored two power-play goals in the win, snapping Nashville's 0 for 8 drought with a man advantage over the previous five games. Both goals were set up by brother Sergei. Andrei Kostitsyn has three goals and three assists in five games with Nashville since arriving in a trade with Montreal. "They are going to make things happen," David Legwand said of the brothers. "It was huge for us. Andrei is an added plus. He is smart. He is big and strong. He has a great shot." While the Predators have the second-best power-play unit in the NHL (21.4 percent), they are 3 for 19 in the last nine road games. Nashville begins this trip looking for its second win in Phoenix. It is 1-2-0 against the Coyotes this season, but won 3-0 in the only meeting at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes (34-25-10), who are seventh in the West but just three points behind Dallas for the Pacific Division lead, snapped a season-high five-game skid (0-4-1) with a 3-0 victory over San Jose on Saturday. Mike Smith stopped 42 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, and Mikkel Boedker and Michael Stone scored second-period goals. Stone, called up last month from the minors, also had an assist. Phoenix had surrendered 17 goals during the losing streak and the once-hot Smith had struggled. He started four of the defeats in the slide and was pulled less than four minutes into his previous start against Columbus on Tuesday. Smith preceded his skid with wins in 11 consecutive starts. "I did not played my best in the last week, and it's a tough time of the year not to play up to your potential," Smith said. "This was a gutsy win for the team, and showed why we can be a good hockey team." If Smith is back in net Monday, it would be his first start this season against the Predators. Jason LaBarbera has started the previous three games, giving up six goals. Smith is 3-2-0 with a 2.47 goals-against average against Nashville, but hasn't faced the Predators since 2009 with Tampa Bay.
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