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NHL: Coyotes' playoff hopes dwindle with loss to Predators

Published April 10, 2014 10:52 pm

NHL • Phoenix is two points behind Dallas for final playoff spot.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Nashville, Tenn. • Pekka Rinne made 29 saves to lead the Nashville Predators to a 2-0 win over Phoenix on Thursday night, damaging the Coyotes' playoff hopes.

Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist scored for Nashville, which has won four of its last five.

The loss hurt Phoenix's quest for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. The Coyotes entered the day two points behind the Dallas Stars in the wild card race. Both teams have two games remaining, including Sunday's season finale when Dallas visits Phoenix.

Phoenix will need to finish the season at least one point ahead of Dallas in the standings since the Stars will hold the first tiebreaker of more regulation and overtime wins no matter what happens over the course of the final two games.

Smith scored the game's first goal at 10:26 of the second period.

After taking a pass from defenseman Ryan Ellis above the left circle, Smith skated down to the left faceoff dot, where he used two Coyotes standing in front of goaltender Thomas Greiss as screene and scored his 21st goal of the season with a wrist shot high to the far side.

Smith's power-play score snapped a 13-game goal-scoring drought.

Hornqvist doubled the Nashville lead at 9:21 of the third. From below the goal line, Mike Fisher found Hornqvist in the slot. Greiss denied Hornqvist's first attempt, but he poked in his own rebound for his 21st of the season — and seventh goal in his last six games.

Rangers 2, Sabres 1 • The New York Rangers did just enough to dispatch of the lowly Buffalo Sabres. A few minutes later, a little bit of help handed them home-ice advantage to start the playoffs.

Rick Nash scored the winning goal with 1:42 left, on New York's third shot of the third period, and the Rangers ensured they will begin the postseason at Madison Square Garden with a victory over the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres.

"The focus doesn't change in the playoffs — the road or at home — but the experience changes," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 23 saves in the final home game of the regular season. "To play at home is just a great feeling, and to feel the atmosphere and the support, you get goose bumps." EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

GP W L OT Pts GF GA

z-Boston 80 53 18 9 115 255 173

y-Pittsburgh 80 51 24 5 107 244 200

x-Montreal 81 45 28 8 98 214 204

x-N.Y. Rangers 81 45 31 5 95 218 192

x-Tampa Bay 80 44 27 9 97 236 213

x-Philadelphia 80 41 30 9 91 227 226

x-Columbus 80 42 31 7 91 226 211

x-Detroit 80 38 27 15 91 218 228

Washington 80 37 30 13 87 231 239

New Jersey 80 34 29 17 85 192 203

Ottawa 80 35 31 14 84 232 263

Toronto 81 38 35 8 84 231 255

Carolina 80 34 35 11 79 199 224

N.Y. Islanders 80 32 37 11 75 218 262

Florida 81 29 44 8 66 194 265

Buffalo 80 21 50 9 51 153 240

WESTERN CONFERENCE

GP W L OT Pts GF GA

y-Anaheim 80 52 20 8 112 259 204

x-St. Louis 80 52 21 7 111 248 185

x-Colorado 79 51 21 7 109 243 210

x-San Jose 80 49 22 9 107 241 197

x-Chicago 80 46 19 15 107 262 209

x-Los Angeles 80 45 28 7 97 200 170

x-Minnesota 81 43 26 12 98 204 199

Dallas 80 39 30 11 89 231 226

Phoenix 80 36 29 15 87 212 227

Nashville 80 36 32 12 84 202 234

Winnipeg 81 36 35 10 82 222 234

Vancouver 79 35 33 11 81 187 213

Calgary 80 35 38 7 77 205 231

Edmonton 80 28 43 9 65 198 265

NOTE: Two points for a win, one point for overtime loss.

x-clinched playoff spot y-clinched division

z-clinched conference

Thursday's games

Ottawa 2, New Jersey 1, SO

Winnipeg 2, Boston 1, SO

N.Y. Rangers 2, Buffalo 1

Washington 5, Carolina 2

N.Y. Islanders 2, Montreal 0

Tampa Bay 4, Philadelphia 2

Florida 4, Toronto 2

Nashville 2, Phoenix 0

Minnesota 4, St. Louis 2

Los Angeles at Edmonton, late

Colorado at Vancouver, late

Friday's games

Chicago at Washington, 5 p.m.

Carolina at Detroit, 5:30 p.m.

Columbus at Tampa Bay, 5:30 p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at New Jersey, 5:30 p.m.

St. Louis at Dallas, 6:30 p.m.

Winnipeg at Calgary, 7 p.m.

Colorado at San Jose, 8 p.m.

Saturday's games

Buffalo at Boston, 10:30 a.m.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at Montreal, 5 p.m.

Toronto at Ottawa, 5 p.m.

Columbus at Florida, 5 p.m.

Chicago at Nashville, 6 p.m.

San Jose at Phoenix, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Edmonton, 8 p.m.

Anaheim at Los Angeles, 8:30 p.m.