The Phoenix Coyotes played a near perfect game in beating the Nashville Predators 5-2 at the Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona on Wednesday night.
Taylor Pyatt scored the game winner halfway through the third period. Lauri Korpikowski, Wojtek Wolski, Shane Doan, and Petteri Nokelainen also added goals for the Coyotes. Keith Yandle had two assist in the winning effort.
The Predator goals were scored by Shea Weber and Steve Sullivan.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 23 of 25 Predator shots to claim the win. Pekka Rinne allowed four goals on 29 shots in the loss.
The game started in an unusual fashion when Shea Weber scored on a slapper twelve seconds into the game as he took the shot off of a faceoff to the left of Bryzgalov. Jason Arnott got an assist off the faceoff and Ryan Suter fed the puck to Weber for the primary assist.
The Coyotes came right back and scored at 2:06 when Lauri Korpikowski took advantage of a bad change by the Preds and got free on a breakaway where he beat Pekka Rinne at the net to tie the game 1-1.
The rest of the first period was fast and furious with plenty of forechecking on both ends of the ice. There were few stoppages as indicated by there being only nine faceoffs for the period. The Yotes out shot the Preds 11-10 and led the Corsi 16-15.
The second period was full of penalties with Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo being called for minors. Phoenix was unable to convert. Then the Coyotes were called for back to back penalties to Daniel Winnik and Vern Fiddler, giving the Predators 57 seconds of five on three advantage but they were unable to put anything on the net.
Phoenix jumped to a 2-1 lead at 16:27 in the second when the Predators allowed Wojtek Wolski to get behind their defense which set up an outlet pass and a breakaway goal as Francis Bouillon was unable to recover.
The Predators appeared to struggle for much of the period and were out shot 11-6 by the Coyotes. The Yotes also led in the Corsi numbers 19-16.
It was announced before the third period that Patric Hornqvist would be out for the remainder of the game due to an "upper body injury".
The Predators tied the game 2-2 on a power play goal by Steve Sullivan at 5:53 that ended a streak of 29 man advantages with no goals for the Preds. The goal came on a rebound of a Cody Fransen shot that went wide and bounced toward Sullivan who had an open shot on net.
The Coyotes took the lead again at 10:36 when Lee Stempniak fed a pass to Taylor Pyatt who was open in the slot. Pyatt beat Rinne on a shot that Pekka would love to have another chance at stopping to give the Yotes a 3-2 lead.
Phoenix put the game away at 17:32 with intense pressure in the slot in front of Rinne when four Coyote players were moving toward the net and Shane Doan put the puck past Rinne to give the Yotes a 4-2 lead.
Phoenix put the icing on the cake with an empty netter with 19 seconds left when Petteri Nokelainen skated the puck into the net.
In the third period the Preds out shot the Yotes 9-8, but trailed 30-25 for the game.
Storylines From The Game
Coyotes Simply Out Played The Predators...
For anyone who wonders how the Coyotes have played as well as they have, they need to look at a tape of this game. The Coyotes played well in all areas of the game and kept the Predators from being able to execute and convert on their scoring chances.
Phoenix kept the pressure on the Preds on both ends of the ice for the entire game. The Predators appeared to be a half step slower for most of the game. The Predators had numerous scoring chances but were unable to convert.
Bad Time For A New Injury...
During a barrage of shot attempts by the Predators on a power play during the second period, a cannon shot from Shea Weber struck Patric Hornqvist in the upper body and he left the game and did not return.
Hornqvist was able to stay on the ice for the remainder of the five on three power play for a long 2:11 shift but never returned. There was no indication of the extent of the injury or how long that he may be out.
This comes on the heels of the Preds getting Jason Arnott back in the lineup after an extended absence.
Western Conference Race...
Much was made of the Preds-Coyotes match being a playoff preview before the game. With the loss, the Preds no longer hold the fifth slot in the Western Conference race.
With Detroit winning, the Preds and Wings each have 98 points but the Wings have an extra game to play so the Preds are officially in sixth place. Los Angeles is only a point behind the Preds with two games in hand.
Even with a win on Saturday, the Preds will need lots of help from others to finish higher than sixth or seventh.
The Predators returned home after the game and will face the St Louis Blues in the final game of the regular season. The game may be Keith Tkachuk's final game if he dresses out. Phoenix still has games remaining on the road with Los Angeles and San Jose.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass