NASHVILLE -- For one glorious period, the Phoenix Coyotes' offensive struggles were a thing of the past.
Radim Vrbata scored twice in the Coyotes' six-goal opening period, and Phoenix went on to defeat the Nashville Predators, 7-4, at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday for their first victory since March 12.
Phoenix, which snapped a seven-game losing streak, sent Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne to the bench less than four minutes into the game while grabbing a 3-0 lead.
“We haven't had much luck around the net,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Pucks seemed to be going in from all over the place tonight. We talked before the game about what we had to do to win -- I asked a couple of guys and not one of them said we're going to score six in the first period and walk away with it.
“That's the way it's gone lately -- it's crazy games. Fortunately, we got on top of this one.”
Nashville’s three-game winning streak emphatically ended.
“Yeah, it was embarrassing,” Rinne said. “Everything they did found a way to the back of the net.”
The Coyotes led 3-0 almost before the fans had settled into their seats. Martin Hanzal scored an unassisted goal at 1:46; Vrbata made it 2-0 at 3:42 on a backhand wraparound; and David Moss hammered in a rebound eight seconds later.
That brought a goaltending change for Nashville, with Chris Mason replacing Rinne. It didn't help -- Matthew Lombardi scored Phoenix’s fourth goal at 7:08, and Keith Yandle connected for a power-play goal on a one-timer at 8:26.
“We're a way better team when we are going forward instead of trying to chase it,” Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. “We obviously have to be good in our own zone and be better defensively, but at the same time we have to be in attacking mindset and that makes us so much more effective.”
Nashville finally got on the board at 9:03 when David Legwand beat Jason LaBarbera, and Rich Clune made it 6-2, 30 seconds later. Vrbata scored his second of the night at 15:57 on a bad-angle screen shot from the left boards near the goal line, only to see Gabriel Bourque tip a shot past LaBarbera 32 seconds later to cut the margin to 6-3.
The Coyotes scored six times on 13 shots in the opening period; defenseman Rostislav Klesla assisted on four of the six goals. Nashville had three goals on 17 shots. The six goals ties the most scored in one period in the League this season; the San Jose Sharks scored six times in the first period at the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 22.
“Whatever it takes; if it takes seven goals to win, that's what we need right now,” Vrbata said. “It was a crazy first period. That's not our style of play. I'm sure that's not theirs either, but we will take whatever we can get.”
The six goals matched Nashville's franchise record for most goals against in one period.
“I've been here a long time, and I haven't seen anything like that,” said Barry Trotz, the only head coach the Predators have had since entering the NHL in 1998. “They scored three goals on three shots. They had five goals on six shots. Mentally, that's pretty stunning because that doesn't happen very often.”
Rinne re-entered the game for the second period and was beaten by Antoine Vermette at 2:44 to make it 7-3.
LaBarbera, playing in place of injured starter Mike Smith, allowed a goal to Shea Weber midway through the third period and finished with 34 saves.
FIVE FOR PHOENIX
1. Forward Steve Sullivan played in his 1,000th NHL game. Sullivan is the sixth player to reach the 1,000 game mark while playing for the Coyotes. The others are Adrian Aucoin, Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris and Teppo Numminen.
2. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla set a franchise record by notching four assists in one period – the first. The franchise record for assists in a game by a defenseman is five set by Phil Housley vs. Hartford in 1993. The four points also were a career-high for points in one game for Klesla.
3. Center Matthew Lombardi scored the 100th goal of his NHL career.
4. With six goals in the first period, the Coyotes tied a team record for goals in a period. Phoenix also scored six at Edmonton (1st period) on Mar. 30, 1999.
5. The Coyotes scored eight goals during their seven-game losing streak. They scored seven in the first 22:44 in this game.
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