(Photos courtesy of Norm Hall
Paul Mara scored a goal and registered an assist in Thursday night's contest, including the game-tying goal with 2:04 left in regulation, but the Nashville Predators specialty teams proved to be too much on this night as the Predators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 in a shootout in front of 13,734 fans at Glendale Arena.
Nashville left wing Paul Kariya scored the lone goal in the shootout for the Predators, who remained undefeated (4-0-0) on the season. Kariya, the third shooter in the lineup, shot a quick wrist shot beating Coyotes goaltender David LeNeveu to the stick-side.
"That's the situation I wanted," said LeNeveu, who made 22 saves and turned aside Nashville's Simon Gamache and Steve Sullivan in the shootout. "I made the first two stops and he's the guy I wanted. But he made a good move and that's why he's a goal scorer in the National Hockey League. He beat me with a good shot and unfortunately we came up a bit short."
The Predators capitalized on three of their five power play chances, while Phoenix went just three of ten - including a missed opportunity on a four-on-three advantage in overtime.
"Specialty teams are everything and we have to find a way to win that battle," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan who recorded an assist and registered six shots on net. "It's coming, we are getting better in some areas but our specialty teams have to improve for us to get some wins."
Just 6:36 into the game and on the power play, Petr Nedved - who returned after missing three games with a groin injury - notched his first goal of the season with a hard wrist shot that deflected off Nashville goaltender Chris Mason and into the net. Nedved's tally marked the first goal Nashville's penalty killing unit has allowed this season, as the Predators came into tonight's game having killed 16 of their previous chances.
Sullivan and Kimmo Timonen countered for Nashville on the man-advantage to end the opening period. Cycling behind the net, Sullivan slid a nice pass to Timmonen, who was positioned just outside the crease, for a quick snapshot that beat LeNeveu.
Mike Leclerc made it 2-2 just 1:39 into the second period, only to have Nashville's Greg Johnson capitalize shorthanded on a broken play during a penalty kill at 4:16 to give the Predators back the lead at 3-2.
With 4:24 left in the second period, Mara scored on a shot from the left face-off circle to tie the game at 3-3.
Trailing 4-3 late in the third period, the Coyotes capitalized on their 10th power play opportunity to send the game to overtime. Cycling behind the net, Nagy was able to tip Mara's shot from the right face off circle past Predators goaltender Chris Mason to tie the game at 4-4.
"We were rotating the puck pretty well all night and in that instance Doan made a nice pass and I one-timed it to the net," said Mara. "We just have to continue to work hard and shoot the puck from all angels."
"We're playing hard," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "I'm very proud of our young kids who really played hard tonight. The power play was better tonight, but we got a lot of mileage out of (Ladislav) Nagy, (Petr) Nedved and (Shane) Doan. I thought they were a bit tired at the end."
Centers Krystofer Kolanos, Jeff Taffe and Mike Ricci as well as defenseman Sean O'Donnell did not play in Thursday's game. Ricci, who was placed on the injured reserve list earlier on Thursday, is still recovering from a broken nose, while Kolanos, Taffe and O'Donnell were listed as healthy scratches.
Center Scott Nichol and defenseman Jamie Allison were the only scratches for the Predators.
CUJO TO START ON SATURDAY
Goaltender Curtis Joseph, who missed the last two games due to a groin injury, will be in net on Saturday night when the Coyotes face off against the Detroit Red Wings. It will be the first start for Joseph since his victory over the Minnesota Wild exactly one week ago.
Left wing Mike Leclerc has changed his number from 7 to 28, while defenseman Zbynek Michalek has switched from 39 to 4.
BOUCHER ON HIS WAY BACK
Even though he is not practicing with the team, goaltender Brian Boucher has been on the skating and working out off the ice. No timetable has been set for his return as Boucher is still listed as day-to-day.
The Coyotes next game will take place on Saturday, October 15 as Phoenix hosts the Detroit Red Wings at Glendale Arena. The game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and fans can catch all the action on WB6 or they can listen to the game on KDUS-1060AM & KDKB-93.3 FM.