LaBarbera solid in Coyotes' win over Preds
Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 10:52 PM
There must be something in the (frozen) water at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena – just ask Phoenix Coyotes
goalie Jason LaBarbera
LaBarbera has two wins in five starts in 2011-12, and both have come on the Predators' home ice.
LaBarbera made 30 saves, Keith Yandle
scored the game-winner with 1:52 to play in regulation and Phoenix beat Nashville 3-2 Tuesday for its second win in as many nights.
"The last time I won was in this building in my first start, and that was a long time ago," said LaBarbera, who led the Coyotes to a 5-2 win on Oct. 13. "It's not easy. I felt like I've played pretty decently this year, but I just haven't gotten the results. … I'm pretty excited."
Phoenix (15-9-3), which also got goals from Ray Whitney
and Taylor Pyatt
, improved to 2-0 on its current three-game trip. The Coyotes, who won 4-3 in a shootout at Chicago on Monday, visit Detroit on Thursday.
and Jack Hillen
scored for Nashville (12-11-4), which fell to 2-6-1 over its last nine. Despite 32 saves from Pekka Rinne
– including some spectacular stops to keep it close – Nashville lost its fourth in a row at home (0-3-1).
"Right now we seem to be better road warriors than we are at home," Preds coach Barry Trotz said. "We've just got to get some wins at home. … We've got to get some wins."
Yandle scored his second goal in as many games – just his fourth of the season – in his 200th consecutive start for the Coyotes.
"It's a thing where you want to play every night, and you want to be out there battling with you team," Yandle said. "You want to be out there winning games. It feels good."
Yandle bagged the winner during a 4-on-4 with just under two minutes to play. Captain Shane Doan
skated down the right side and flicked a cross-ice pass to Yandle, who was skating through the slot. In one motion, Yandle corralled and flicked a wrister past Rinne's near post.
Nashville had tied the game for the second time on Weber's long blast with 7:07 to go in the third period. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson
and Derek Morris
both off for minors, Weber had plenty of space to wind up and fire a one-timer from beyond the left circle off a lay-off from Ryan Suter
Phoenix took a 2-1 lead when Radim Vrbata
found Whitney all alone in the low slot at 1:40 of the final period. A broken play allowed Whitney to sneak in front of net, where he finished coolly past an exposed Rinne for his 10th of the season.
That goal came just after LaBarbera robbed David Legwand
from close range – one of his 12 third-period saves.
"Barbs is the reason why we won that game. He was outstanding all night, he made huge saves, especially the one where he made coming across," Yandle said of the Legwand save.
On the other side of a quiet second period, the teams traded opening goals in the first.
Pyatt gave Phoenix the lead off the game's opening faceoff. Lauri Korpikoski
's shot from the back edge of the right circle wiggled past Rinne, and Pyatt was on the doorstep to put the puck in the net with just 9 seconds elapsed.
Hillen brought his team even for the first time just before the first intermission. Hillen picked up a loose puck near the blue line and skated into the left circle, firing a puck high to LaBarbera's near post. LaBarbera appeared to smother it, but on second glance it popped up and past him for Hillen's second goal of the season.
Not much was expected from the Coyotes, especially after starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov opted not to re-sign and wound up in Philadelphia. But Phoenix continues to find ways to win, especially on the road.
"We have a good group in there," coach Dave Tippett said of his team, which could be heard celebrating from the bowels of Bridgestone Arena after the game. "They love to work hard and they like to have fun. Winning is what it's all about for us, and sometimes it's not pretty, but our group gets in there and they dig down and find a way. That's kind of been our motto all year."