Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Oleg Saprykin - (C) Mike Zigomanis - (RW) Georges Laraque
(D) Ed Jovanovski - (D) Zbynek Michalek
PREDATORS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) J.P. Dumont - (C) Jason Arnott - (RW) Steve Sullivan
(D) Dan Hamhuis - (D) Shea Weber
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Nashville - Tomas Vokoun
On Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes returned to Jobing.com Arena where, on the strength of third period goals by Shane Doan and Yanic Perreault, they defeated the Nashville Predators by the score of 3-2.
The Coyotes and the Predators made it clear early one that there would be no love lost between these two clubs; and just to reinforce the point, Phoenix forward Georges Laraque and Nashville's Darcy Hordichuk dropped the gloves at 2:38 of the first period.
Both Laraque and Hordichuk would receive five minute for their efforts, but Hordichuk was given an extra two for roughing, giving the Coyotes the first power play of the game. Unfortunately, it was the Predators who would make the first mark on the scoreboard, taking advantage of a Phoenix turnover.
On the play, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek was unable to keep the puck in the Nashville zone at the point, allowing the puck to be picked up in the neutral zone by Scott Hartnell of the Predators. Hartnell raced into the Phoenix zone on a two-on-one with linemate Steve Sullivan. After drawing goaltender Curtis Joseph over to his right, Hartnell send a hard pass back across the ice to an open Sullivan who just tipped the puck into the Coyotes goal for a 1-0 lead at 3:54 of the first.
Minutes later, the Predators nearly made it a two-goal lead when center Scott Nichol tried to slam the puck into the Phoenix net from the top of the crease. However, Joseph was able to take away the opening before Nichol could get his shot off, allowing "Cujo" to make the save.
Following the early offensive pressure by Nashville, the Coyotes began to create their own opportunities in the offensive zone. Then at 11:16 of the period Jeremy Roenick delivered his seventh goal of the season to even the score. The entire scoring opportunity was created by Phoenix center Steven Reinprecht, who forced Nashville defenseman Shea Weber off the puck in front of the Predators net; as a result, the puck rolled through the slot, to the hash marks where Roenick stepped up and blasted a shot through the legs of netminder Tomas Vokoun to make it a 1-1 game.
Over the remainder of the opening period, the two clubs would trade scoring opportunities as well as minor penalties, but neither club would capture the go-ahead goal and the first 20-minutes came to a close with the score tied at 1-1.
Early in the second, the Coyotes would call upon their penalty killing unit when Mike Zigomanis was assessed a minor penalty for hooking at 2:39 of the period. The Phoenix defense would execute their plan to perfection, keeping the pressure away from Curtis Joseph, allowing the penalty to expire without incident.
As the penalty continued, the Predators began to increase their presence in the Coyotes zone. Forward Steve Sullivan nearly gave Nashville their second lead of the game mid-way through the period, but Joseph stood his ground and kept the game tied at 1-1.
Phoenix would turn to their penalty killers to hold the fort again at the 16:02 of the second as Ladislav Nagy was escorted to the box to serve a hooking penalty. This time it was the efforts of Curtis Joseph that kept the Predators from grabbing their second goal of the game. Joseph made a series of saves from close range to hold off the Nashville attack and keep the clubs deadlocked at one goal apiece.
The Coyotes would draw a much-needed power play at 16:02 of the second when Nagy was struck in the face by an errant high stick from Nashville's David Legwand. Despite the extra attacker, the Coyotes would not be able to convert their pressure in the offensive zone into a go-ahead goal and the second period would end just as the first did , with the score tied at 1-1.
The final period began with Joseph, once again, rising to the occasion, making a pair of saves on the doorstep, just minutes into the period.
Nashville would get their chance to put the pressure on the Coyotes at 4:26 of the third when defenseman Ed Jovanovski was sent to the box for tripping. Seconds into the Predators power play, forward Alexander Radulov took a bone-crushing hit behind the Coyotes net as Keith Ballard plowed into Nashville forward.
Then at 5:29 of the third, the Predators offense, which had saturated the Coyotes goal for much of the night, regained the lead; when Jason Arnott unleashed a slap shot from the right face-off circle that beat Joseph on the stick side to make it a 2-1 game.
However, the Predators lead would be short lived as the Coyotes fought back and at 8:43 of the stanza, tied the game courtesy of team captain, Shane Doan. On the play, Zigomanis took a shot from the right hand boards that fell to the ice when it hit traffic in the slot. Luckily, Doan was in position to grab the puck and blast a shot through the legs of Vokoun to tie the game at 2-2.
The clubs would trade roughing penalties in the minutes following Doan's goal and then with just over five minutes left in regulation, Phoenix took their first lead of the night. Veteran center Jeremy Roenick, started the drive deep inside the Nashville zone when he made a great cross-ice pass to defenseman Nick Boynton at the point. Boynton then wound up and made a hard pass to an open Yanic Perreault in the slot. Perreault was positioned perfectly behind the Predators defense and Vokoun and needed only to deflect the puck behind Vokoun and watch it as it trickled into the Predators goal for a 3-2 Coyotes lead.
Nashville would pull Vokoun late in favor of an extra attacker, but Joseph saved his best goaltending for the final seconds of the game as he stopped a trio of shots on goal to preserve the lead and ultimately lead the Coyotes to a 3-2 win over the Predaotrs.