GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Curtis Joseph is hesitant to talk about the milestones he's achieved this season. Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky is less bashful.
"What records show is consistency, and that's what he's been in his career," Gretzky said of Joseph, who made 28 saves for his 424th career win in the Coyotes' 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. "He's been a professional and been liked with every team he's been with."
Joseph, making his first start since March 21, moved past Hall of Famer Tony Esposito into sole possession of sixth place of the NHL's career wins list.
"While you're still playing, there still are lots of things to do and lots of games to be played," Joseph said. "He (Esposito) is one of the greatest goalies, was fun to watch and was a character of the game. To be mentioned in the same sentence as Tony Esposito is special."
Keith Ballard scored the go-ahead goal for the Coyotes, who won for the fourth time in five games. Shane Doan, Mike Comrie, Oleg Kvasha and Derek Morris also scored for Phoenix, which snapped a five-game losing streak against Nashville.
"I know the players wanted him (Joseph) to get this at home," Gretzky said. "He's been tremendous for us all year long."
Mike Sillinger, Dan Hamhuis and Martin Erat scored for the Predators, who lost their third straight and remained seven points behind Detroit for the Central Division lead with 10 games remaining.
"You've got to play with urgency and we aren't playing with urgency right now," said Nashville's Tomas Vokoun, who made 37 saves. "That's why we're a step late everywhere. That's why teams are scoring on us. It's a long season and there are always ups and downs. We just have to get back somehow on the horse and whatever we need to do we need to do it."
Ballard broke a 2-2 tie with 2:55 left in the second period. Morris skated in on Vokoun and took a short wrist shot. Ballard pounced on the rebound for a short-handed goal as Phoenix's Tyson Nash collided with Vokoun.
Video officials reviewed the play before determining Nash was pushed into the goalie.
"The puck was bobbling all the way down the ice," Nash said. "I was lucky to get a little bit of wood on it and Bally came in and cleaned up the garbage."
Comrie made it 4-2 with 7:50 remaining and the Coyotes on an extended two-man advantage. He scored off a rebound from the right side of the net.
"It's penalties. Another 5-on-3 for them and they score," Sillinger said. "We take a penalty at the end of the first period and they score. It's not that our penalty killing is not any good but it's just what happens. You take that many penalties and eventually they are going to score."
Erat pulled the Predators within 4-3 on a sharp wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle. But Kvasha scored 39 seconds later on the end of a 2-on-0 break to give Phoenix a 5-2 lead.
Sillinger gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period, bouncing a hard shot from the right circle off Phoenix center Boyd Devereaux's stick and past Joseph.
Morris tied it with 12.3 seconds left in the period when he lunged for a misplaced pass from Kvasha and guided the puck over Vokoun's glove for a power-play goal.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Doan made it 2-1 at 2:27 of the second, batting home the puck inches from the goal line after Matthew Spiller's shot had trickled between Vokoun's pads.
Hamhuis tied it 2-2 at 9:51 of the period on a blast from the center of the left circle.
Notes: Phoenix had not beaten Nashville since a 1-0 victory on April 4, 2003. ... Doan's 27th goal matched his career high set in 2003-04. ... Sillinger has two goals and two assists in two games. ... RW Bill Thomas made his NHL debut for Phoenix, one day after signing with the Coyotes and four days after leading Nebraska-Omaha to the NCAA regional finals. ... Spiller's assist on Doan's goal was his first career point.
|Mike Sillinger (26) ASST: Danny Markov (11), Paul Kariya (46)|
1 - 0 NSH
|PPG - Derek Morris (4) ASST: Oleg Kvasha (17), Mike Johnson (31)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Shane Doan (27) ASST: Matthew Spiller (1), Steve Reinprecht (27)|
2 - 1 PHX
|Dan Hamhuis (4) ASST: Martin Erat (26), Scott Hartnell (22)|
2 - 2 Tie
|SHG - Keith Ballard (7) ASST: Tyson Nash (6), Derek Morris (16)|
3 - 2 PHX
|PPG - Mike Comrie (26) ASST: Steve Reinprecht (28), Shane Doan (32)|
4 - 2 PHX
|Martin Erat (17) ASST: Scott Nichol (2), Shea Weber (4)|
4 - 3 PHX
|Oleg Kvasha (12) ASST: Mike Johnson (32), Mike Comrie (28)|
5 - 3 PHX
|Derek Morris Cross checking against Paul Kariya|
|Dan Hamhuis Tripping against Keith Ballard|
|Danny Markov Hooking against Mike Comrie|
|Brendan Witt Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Scott Nichol Holding against Mike Johnson|
|Derek Morris Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Jerred Smithson Hooking against Mike Johnson|
|Bill Thomas Hooking against Paul Kariya|
|Steve Sullivan Slashing against Tyson Nash|
|Matthew Spiller Hooking|
|Josh Gratton Hooking|
|Zbynek Michalek Interference|
|Scott Hartnell Hooking|
|Shea Weber Slashing against Mike Comrie|
|Mike Ricci Tripping against Paul Kariya|