Coyotes try to build momentum in home test vs. Preds

The Phoenix Coyotes look to build off their first victory of the month as they wrap their season series this evening with the Nashville Predators.

The Coyotes opened up March with four straight regulation losses before suffering a shootout setback to the Wild on Thursday. They finally cracked the win column with a 3-0 victory over the Sharks on Saturday, getting a 42-save shutout from Mike Smith.

Smith had allowed 11 goals over four games of Phoenix's losing streak and was given the night off in the setback to the Wild after getting pulled early in his previous outing. However, he returned fresh to post his 16th career shutout.

"It's a tough time of the year not to play up to your potential, but tonight we showed we could be a good hockey team," said Smith.

Defenseman Michael Stone notched his first career goal on Saturday and added an assist, while Mikkel Boedker and Raffi Torres also scored. The win has the Coyotes seventh overall in the West with 78 points. That is only two ahead of three teams tied for the eighth spot, but also three back of the Pacific Division-leading Stars.

The Coyotes have notched a pair of victories in Nashville this year, but was blanked 3-0 by the Predators in the lone meeting so far in Phoenix on Nov. 3. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves for Nashville on the same day he signed a seven-year extension.

The investment has been a wise one for the Predators as Rinne leads the NHL with 38 wins to go along with a 2.35 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and four shutouts. He made 35 saves in Saturday's 3-2 win over Detroit to give Nashville its third victory in four games.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice, with brother Sergei assisting on both goals. Andrei Kostitsyn has three goals and six points in five games since being acquired from Montreal.

Patric Hornqvist also scored and David Legwand assisted on all three tallies for the Predators, who are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games.

"Tonight, special teams were huge," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "We were 2-for-4 on the power play and then 4-for-4 on the penalty kill."

Nashville sits fifth overall in the West with 87 points, three behind Detroit. The Predators will play nine of their final 14 games on the road, beginning with a four-game swing that beings tonight.