The Predators began their Western trek last night with their first stop in Glendale, Arizona to face the team that currently holds the 2nd spot in the Pacific Division, the Phoenix Coyotes. After losing five games in a row, then coming back to demolish the San Jose Sharks on Saturday 3-0, the Coyotes were eager to jump back on the winning wagon and retain their #2 spot in the division. However, the Coyotes fall just two spots behind the Predators in conference standings, and just ten points behind the Preds… Who was more hungry for a win? Here are the highlights from last night’s all-nighter:
- Craig Smith was finally able to stretch his legs, getting off the scratched list to see some ice time. Kevin Klein, Brian McGrattan, Brandon Yip, and Roman Josi topped out the scratched list, with Roman suffering from a possible concussion. In fact, Josi didn’t even make the trip to Phoenix with the team, leading us to speculate that his concussion might lead to possible IR time. Yikes.
- Both teams were shaky in the first, with both the Predators and the Coyotes only sending 8 goals a piece on net during the period. Martin Erat was finally able to slip a wrist shot past Mike Smith at 19:31 for his 17th goal of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his 24th assist and Hal Gill his 10th of the season on Marty’s Party goal.
- Phoenix must have had an intermission intervention, for Daymond Langkow tipped the puck in past Pekka Rinne 49 seconds into the 2nd Period for his 9th goal of the season.
- The Predators would finally take the lead once again at 11:04 with a beautiful setup between the dream team that is Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Mike Fisher. Fisher’s wrist shot gave him his 21st goal of the season, along with SK74’s 25 assist and Marty’s 34th assist of the season.
- Keith Yandle didn’t wait too long to tie the game once more, gaining his 10th goal of the season at 14:23.
- The back and forth would continue at 18:26 with a wrist shot from Francis Bouillon, his 1st goal of the season. Martin Erat picked up his second assist of the night (35th) along with Ryan Ellis (7th assist).
- Craig Smith would come out fast in the 3rd Period, scoring his 13th goal of the season at 2:36 with a backhanded beauty. Paul Gaustad was the lone assist, picking up his 13th for the season.
- The Coyotes wouldn’t let the Predators, who were up by 2 in the third, simply slip away with the easy win and came back with force. First with a goal from Oliver Ekman-Larsson (his 9th of the season) at 7:11 and then another from Raffi Torres at 15:01 for his 13th goal of the season. Both goalies and defense would block each team from taking the win, sending the game into OT.
- Overtime, although with Phoenix taking 2 shots and the Predators only taking 1 on goal, would produce nothing for either teams, sending the go-around into a shootout, a testament for both teams’ goalies.
- PHOENIX – Ray Whitney – SAVE BY RINNE
- NASHVILLE – Andrei Kostitsyn – GOAL
- PHOENIX – Radim Vrbata – SAVE BY RINNE
- NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE BY SMITH
- PHOENIX – Mikkel Boedker – SAVE BY RINNE
- Andrei Kostitsyn’s accuracy saved the Predators from a rough and too-close-for-comfort game. The Predators may have left with the two points, but the Coyotes slipped away with one, and after holding the lead by two, the Predators (although the victors) hung their head after letting an easy win turn into a fight for survival.
- Both teams equalled out in shots on goal at 35, but both goalies took a beating. Both Pekka Rinne and Mike Smith made some remarkable saves, but due to flaws in the defense, Pekka wasn’t able to stop nasty goalies from the likes of Yandle and Langkow.
- The Predators only gave the Coyotes one power play chance, with a tripping penalty called on Sergei Kostitsyn at 16:43 in the 2nd Period. The Coyotes handed the Predators three chances, but none were used to Nashville’s advantage.
The Predators slipped away with the win by the skin of their teeth, clearly a lack of motivation after gaining the lead by 2. The Coyotes ate up the sluggish, slackers and almost sent the Predators packing to San Jose with a loss under their belt. However, no matter how nasty of a win, a win is a win and the Predators came out the victors.
Trotz has probably already tanned their hides for the close call, so hopefully the Predators will be more focused and ready to win the game in regulation against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. The puck drops even later on Thursday with the game starting at 9:30PM CST.
We leave you with this video highlight of last night’s game, with a shot of AK46’s shootout goal that save the Predators from a loss.
…Who’s a happy GM? David Poile’s a happy GM!