This time, the Nashville Predators were able to survive an early three-goal lead against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Nick Spaling, Mike Fisher and Gabriel Bourque scored first-period goals for Nashville, and Marek Mazanec made 29 saves to protect that lead in a 4-2 victory at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.
"That was the mindset we had to come out with," Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We scored three, we could have scored five or six. We had a couple breakaways, and (Coyotes goalie Mike) Smith made a great save, and we put one off the post. We really came out really well and executed, got a forecheck, turned some pucks over."
Phoenix (14-6-4) lost its third game in a row. The Coyotes trailed a home game Oct. 31 against the Predators 3-0 in the first period before winning 5-4 in a shootout.
"We know they're a team that doesn't give up and they create a lot of pressure and they're going to stay on you," Spaling said.
Nashville (12-10-2), coming off a 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday, scored 1:02 into this game. Predators forward Matt Cullen beat Coyotes forward Jeff Halpern to a dump-in. Cullen's shot coming across the circle was kicked out by Smith's right pad to Spaling, who scored stick-side inside the post.
Coyotes forward Shane Doan nearly tied it, but his shot hit the crossbar, and it quickly became 2-0, Predators. The puck eventually made its way behind Smith's net, and the goalie's attempt to clear it from there was disrupted by the presence of teammate Michael Stone. Predators forward Eric Nystrom was able to collect the weak pass along the boards, and he fed Colin Wilson behind the net. Smith hit Fisher with a pass, and his shot from inside the right circle connected at 8:22.
Nashville scored one more before the end of the first period to equal its 3-0 lead on Halloween. David Legwand's long cross-ice pass found Viktor Stalberg on the right wing and set up a partial 2-on-1 with Bourque. Stalberg fed Bourque, who lifted a shot past Smith with 1:27 remaining.
"We just made some mistakes 1-on-1, missed coverages, and ended up in the back of our net three times," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "… Some of it is there's some mistakes we're making that we have to clean up, but some of it I think we have to start using some different people in situations."
Phoenix started its comeback in the second period with a determined forecheck. Kyle Chipchura checked Legwand to knock the puck free, Antonie Vermette gained possession, and his wrist shot from above the right faceoff dot was tipped by Mikkel Boedker under Mazanec at 9:34.
The Coyotes made it 3-2 less than four minutes later. Tim Kennedy left the puck for Radim Vrbata in the neutral zone, and he skated into the zone up the left wing. His pass to the front of the net was tipped by Martin Hanzal and kicked out by Mazanec to Kennedy, who made a move to his backhand and scored his first of the season at 13:00.
"(Tim) was one of our best players tonight," Tippett said. "(He) played a very fast game, was around the puck, got rewarded with a goal by going to the net. We need more people to contribute like that."
Predators defenseman Shea Weber fired the puck off the glass in his defensive zone and it went into an empty net with 35 seconds to play.
“We gave up too many quality scoring chances, breakaways, two-on-ones,” Coyotes center Antoine Vermette said. “You want to take those out of your game, and they got great chances and they took advantage of them early on.”
Doan left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. He played his final shift with 6:38 remaining in the second, and a total of 14 shifts for 9:43.
Tippett said Doan was removed from the game as a precaution and is considered day-to-day.
“That’s hard, especially when you lose a guy like Doaner,” Tippett said. “That’s a tough one to swallow, but we had chances in the third. A couple bounces or a call here or there, and we might have gotten ourselves back in the game.”
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