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Ellis caps night in shootout; Predators top Coyotes

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators defensemen are encouraged to join the rush and be active offensively under new coach Peter Laviolette. Ryan Ellis did that Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes in a 4-3 shootout win he clinched.

"He constantly looks to get on the backside of things. He makes great plays coming out of our end," Laviolette said of Ellis. "He's a talented kid. To use a defenseman in a shootout, there's lots of guys up front that are talented, but we've got a couple defensemen that are good in shootouts as well.

"I just think that he makes a good first pass, and he's able to see holes in the ice to jump to the offense. That really helps when you're trying to generate offense if you have your back end contributing."

The Coyotes took a 3-2 lead on a power-play goal by former Predators forward Martin Erat at 7:42 of the third period. Nashville's James Neal tied the game 21 seconds later when he one-timed a pass on the rush from Mike Ribeiro, who played for the Coyotes last season.

"I just saw him coming behind me. Obviously, he has a better shot than me, so I thought if you take the odds, should I shoot or should [Neal]?" Ribeiro said. "I think Neal should shoot. I think he was in a better position than me to shoot. It went in. It was a big goal for us."

Ellis scored the game-winner in the shootout after he had a goal and two assists in regulation. He was active on the rush offensively for Nashville.

"We're allowed to go down the walls more and get more active in the offensive zone and for me, I'm excited," Ellis said. "I'm thrilled by that opportunity. Obviously you've got to pick the right time, but I think tonight and even the past couple games here, I think we've been doing a pretty good job of that."

The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead at 3:21 of the first period when Rob Klinkhammer was able to convert on a 2-on-1 rush. Klinkhammer received the pass from David Moss and one-timed the puck past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne for his second goal.

Ribeiro tied the game at 12:05 of the first on a 4-on-1 rush by the Predators. He made a pass to Ellis and got the puck right back to one-time it past Arizona goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

Ellis gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 5:12 of the second period, three seconds after a Nashville power play expired. He pinched down to the high slot and fired a wrist shot past Dubnyk.

"It was a great play by [Seth Jones] and [Derek Roy] up top," Ellis said. "[Roy] kind of feathered a pass over there and then [Colin Wilson] was in front and made a great screen. I think that kind of threw the goalie off. Not sure if it was tipped or not by one of their guys, but any traffic in front makes it a lot harder for the goalie."

Arizona defenseman Keith Yandle tied the game 2-2 at 11:48 of the period on a wrist shot from the slot. Yandle got the puck off a faceoff in the Nashville end and shot it past Rinne for his first goal of the season.

Nashville had four power-play chances in the second period and was unable to convert on any of them. The Predators have scored one power-play goal in 13 opportunities this season, and their ineptitude with the man advantage was almost the difference in the game Tuesday.

"That could have been the game. They went and scored a 3-2 goal on the power play, and you cannot not score on the power play," Ribeiro said. "That will make the difference. That will make you win or lose games, so obviously we're not happy about it."

The Coyotes fell to 2-2-1 with the shootout loss, rebounding to gain one point against the Predators after suffering a 6-1 home loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

"Certainly much better than the other day," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "We were looking for a response out of our team and we certainly got it. I thought Dubnyk played well in goal, of course, but our whole team competed in the areas we wanted to do a lot better and had opportunities with power plays to get a win, and unfortunately we didn't."

Dubnyk made his second start of the season for Arizona, falling to 1-0-1 on the season. He stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced and helped the Coyotes earn a key point.

"I want to give them that feeling that I'm going to be solid for them back there. The more games I'm able to play, obviously they'll be able to get a feel for me," Dubnyk said."

Arizona will travel to play the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Nashville will host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in the second game between the teams this season.

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