Friday, February 27, 2009

Predators Defeat Phoenix 4-1

The Nashville Predators won their third game in a row, soundly defeating an uninspired Phoenix Coyotes team 4-1 at the Sommet Center on Thursday night.

The win moved the Predators within one point of the elusive final playoff position. The Preds remain in eleventh place with 64 points right behind a four way log jam at 65 points with Minnesota, Dallas, Edmonton, and Anaheim all tied for seventh in the tightly bunched Western Conference race.

When asked about the tight race, Steve Sullivan said, “I don’t think we are sneaking up on anyone. There are about seven teams going for two or three spots and everyone is looking at the standings every single day and we know where everybody is and we know what we have to do. We still believe destiny is in our own hands”.

The Predators started off in familiar fashion, skating hard and moving the puck well. Steve Sullivan scored at the 13:29 mark in the first on a typical Sully move flipping the puck over the shoulder of Coyote goalie Ilja Bryzgalov. The first period ended 1-0 with the Predators out shooting Phoenix 19-10. The 19 goals tied the season high for a period last done on January 29th against Vancouver.

The Coyotes tied the game at the 11:04 mark in the second after the Predators has missed several scoring opportunities including an open net muff by Jason Arnott. Before you could get that sinking feeling that has been all too common this season, Jason Arnott put the Preds back in the lead less than a minute after the Coyote tally with what ended up being the game wining goal.

The third period included goals by Joel Ward and David Legwand to finish off the Coyotes and seal the victory. The Preds tied their season high in shots out shooting Phoenix 47 to 26. Marty Erat had nine shots for the game, which was the season high for an individual player. Joel Ward was the only two-point player picking up an assist on Legwand’s goal in addition to scoring one himself.

Pekka Rinne continued his excellent play picking up his 19th victory allowing one goal on 26 Coyote shots. Pekka commented after the game that it was better playing with a lead and that Phoenix didn’t have “that many scoring chances. We just need to keep winning, I think we are on the right track”.

Marty Erat sat out the final portion of the game after he lost his edge on a play and tweaked his lower body. Barry Trotz indicated that it was minor and that with a 4-1 lead they didn’t want to take any chances.

The potential Wade Belak – Dan Carcillo showdown never occurred. There were a couple of minor skirmishes, one that even had Steve Sullivan called for roughing. Sully pointed out “That’s not my style of game”. At the 14:57 mark in the third tempers flared again which resulted in both Jordin Tooto and Ed Jovanovski receiving game misconducts. After the game Barry Trotz commented, “That wasn’t really a fight, just a lot of pushing”.

The Predators continue their home stand with a match Saturday night against the Central Division rival, Detroit Red Wings. The Predators have 20 games remaining and will need in the neighborhood of 13 wins to make the playoffs. Detroit remains in contention for the President’s trophy that goes to the team with the best regular season record. They are currently five points behind San Jose in that race.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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