NASHVILLE -- Pekka Rinne is in a groove for the Nashville Predators.
Rinne stopped 19 shots for his second straight shutout as the Predators defeated the Coyotes 3-0 Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Rinne, who blanked the San Jose Sharks 1-0 Tuesday, has three shutouts in his past four starts and has gone 137:41 without allowing a goal.
"I don't know where we'd be without Pekka," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "He's the best goaltender in the world."
Gabriel Bourque, Nick Spaling and Mike Fisher scored third-period goals for the Predators, who were frustrated by Mike Smith through 40 minutes. The Coyotes goaltender made point-blank stops on Fisher and Bourque in the final 10 seconds of the second period.
"I thought in the second period we started taking over the game," Nashville Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We had a real good chance at the end, and I think the second period set us up for the third. We wore down their defense, and we really put a lot of pucks to the blue paint and created chances off the shot."
Phoenix had its best chance of the game just over three minutes after the opening face-off.
With all but one Nashville player caught in the offensive zone, all five Coyotes on the ice drove into the Predators zone on a 5-on-1 break. Steve Sullivan fired a wrist shot, but Rinne was able to glove the puck and force a face-off.
"He's so calm and he's such a great goaltender in terms of seeing the puck," Trotz said. "He could be the star of the game every night because he makes one or two saves that are difference-makers."
Bourque finally broke through at 2:40 of the third period when Martin Erat's shot hit his skate and deflected into the net for a power-play goal with Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker in the penalty box. It was Bourque's third goal of the season.
Spaling made it 2-0 at 9:38 when his high snap shot from the right circle beat Smith to the glove side for his third of the season. Fisher added some insurance with 1:44 left in regulation when he set up in the right circle and one-timed a feed from Ellis for his second of the season.
Smith finished with 26 saves for Phoenix, which had won the first two games of a three-game road trip and shut out the Predators 4-0 in Arizona on Jan. 28.
"We certainly had an opportunity to get six points on the trip, which would have been great," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "I like that for stretches tonight we played better than we did in Colorado (a 3-2 overtime win Monday). But we didn't get the win, so we'll have to get right back at it on Saturday. We have two (home) games before we head out on another road trip. Those games are crucial for us."
To Trotz, beating Smith was crucial for his team as well.
"He's a great goaltender," Trotz said of Smith, who was the key to the Coyotes' elimination of the Predators in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring. "They beat us out in the playoffs and last game they shut us out. We needed a good response against a team like Phoenix so they don't start getting in our head."
1. Coyotes forward Steve Sullivan played his first game at Nashville since leaving the Predators after six-plus seasons of service. In a classy show of respect, the Preds presented a “Thank You” video to Sullivan on the Jumbotron during the first period.
"It's great," said Sullivan, who played 15:57 and took two shots on goal. "I appreciate it. I've said it before - these are some of the best fans in the League and I feel fortunate to have had a chance to play here and I appreciate the tribute, for sure."
2. Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris suffered an upper-body injury in the first period and played only five shifts (3:30).
3. Coyotes center Antoine Vermette won 14 of 18 face-offs.
4. Phoenix’s defeat was its first regular-season loss at Nashville since Nov. 30, 2010.
5. Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson played 27:35 – his second highest total of ice time this season.
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