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Predators open road swing in the desert

By Nicolino Dibenedetto

Stats Writer

GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- The Nashville Predators hope to

snap a three-game slide and get back into playoff position when

they begin a four-game road trip.

Fortunately, they open the swing Saturday night against the

last-place Phoenix Coyotes.

The Predators (33-30-5) lost consecutive home games, falling 4-2

to the New York Rangers on Thursday after losing in 2-1 overtime

to Washington two nights prior. Those setbacks followed a 4-1

defeat at Philadelphia last Saturday, snapping a season-high

six-game winning streak.

Nashville is tied with Minnesota for ninth in the Western

Conference, one point behind Edmonton and Dallas, which are tied

for seventh. The Wild visit the Stars, while the Oilers face

conference-worst Colorado.

"We know how tight this is right now, how tight the races are,"

Predators left wing Steve Sullivan said Thursday.

The Predators have struggled as the visitor, losing three of

their last four and posting a 5-11-1 mark in the last 17.

"It's just going to have to be a good road trip, plain and

simple," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We have to go on

the road and do something here.

"We are going to need total commitment from everybody

offensively and defensively with the puck. We are going to have

to be good at the draws, we are going to have to be good on

special teams."

Nashville's power play converts only 14.1 percent of the time,

ranking among the worst in the NHL. However, the club's

penalty-killing unit is third in the league with an 84.7 percent

success rate. It's only allowed one goal in the last 29

attempts over 10 games.

The Predators are hoping to have Jason Arnott back after he sat

out Thursday's loss with an upper-body injury. The center, who

leads the team with 27 goals - eight on the power play - and is

second with 49 points suffered the injury Tuesday when he was

hit by the Capitals' Shaone Morrisonn.

Arnott has seven goals and 18 points in his last 13 games

against Phoenix (28-34-6), including one goal in each of the

last two meetings.

The Predators are 2-1-0 against the Coyotes this season, but

lost 2-1 on Dec. 18 in the only matchup at Arena.

Phoenix, last in the Pacific Division, is 4-15-1 in its last 20

games. The club ended a five-game road trip by losing for the

fourth time in a row, 5-2 at New Jersey on Thursday. The

Coyotes opened that swing with promise, beating East-leading

Boston 2-1 on March 5.

"We're looking forward to going home," Coyotes center Steve

Reinprecht told the team's official Web site. "It's been a long

trip and it's been an emotional trip. We've got to reload."

The Coyotes have won only once in eight home games, a 4-3

shootout victory over Atlanta on February 19.

Shane Doan, the captain and team leader with 25 goals and 57

points, has two goals and one assist in the last three games

after being held without a point in the previous four, including

a 4-1 loss at Nashville on February 26. The right wing hasn't

managed a point in three season meetings with the Predators.


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