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Jovanovski leads Coyotes past Preds

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With Phoenix's forwards still in a scoring slump, the "Old Jovo" picked a perfect time to make some history for the Coyotes.

Defenseman Ed Jovanovski capped the first career NHL hat trick with a power-play goal 5:38 into the third period as Phoenix rallied twice from one-goal deficits and outlasted the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Wednesday night.

Jovanovski recorded the first hat trick by a defenseman in the 31-year NHL history of the Jets/Coyotes franchise, dating back to Winnipeg in 1979, and the Coyotes needed all three of his goals. The five-time All-Star sent chapeaus flying just 1:15 after Lee Stempniak scored a power-play goal of his own - and the 100th of his career - to even the game 3-3.

They were the first two power-play goals for the Coyotes at home this season after 13 failed attempts, and pushed the Coyotes (4-4-3) into the double digits in points with 11.

"Jovo threw us on his back and took us for a ride offensively tonight," fellow defenseman Keith Yandle said. "After he scored his second one, he came back to the bench and I said, 'Nice read.'

"He just smiled at me and said 'Yup, that's The Old Jovo right there.' "

Francis Bouillon, Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist scored for Nashville, which is now 0-3-0 after opening the season with an eight-game unbeaten streak (5-0-3) The Predators, 2-7-1 in their last 10 trips to Arizona, also saw a string of collecting at least one point in 23 consecutive one-goal games (18-0-5) end after squandering leads of 2-1 and 3-2.

"The turning point was when we were up 3-2 and (Steve) Sullivan goes in all alone (and hits the crossbar after beating Ilya Bryzgalov)," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "If he buries that, I think we come out winning the game fairly easy."

But Nashville just couldn't stop Jovanovski, who now has nine points (3-6-9) in his first 11 games to lead the offensively challenged Coyotes. While Shane Doan, Ray Whitney and Wojtek Wolski are among six Phoenix forwards still without a goal this season, six of Phoenix's last 10 goals have been scored by defensemen.

"It was nice to get the win and nice to contribute offensively," said the 34-year-old Jovanovski, who had two-goal game five previous times in his career but just once since 2005. "We have forwards who can score, but we are encouraged to jump up into the play and I guess I had a little puck luck tonight. They went in."

Phoenix center Martin Hanzal, back in the lineup after missing six games with an upper-body injury, assisted on Jovanovski's first two goals and played 20 minutes, the most of any Phoenix forward.

Jovanovski opened the scoring just 1:08 into the game when his long shot from the left circle caught the far post and banked past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

But the lead didn't last long, as Nashville answered with two quick goals. Bouillon flipped a long shot from the far left point handcuffed Bryzgalov, who touched it but couldn't keep it out at 8:58. Just 30 seconds later, Phoenix's Adrian Aucoin lost a battle for the puck with Sergei Kostitsyn, who beat Bryzgalov to the glove side from the left circle to give the Predators the lead.

Jovanovski tied the game at 1:09 of the second, stunning Rinne by picking the short side with a wicked blast that whistled over the right shoulder and just under the crossbar. But with Doan in the penalty box for interference, Hornqvist batted a Colin Wilson rebound out of midair and past Bryzgalov to give the Predators their third and final lead of the game - setting the stage for a Phoenix comeback.

"We talked after the second period about how we were going to need a huge third period to win and we did a great job of coming together," Yandle said. "Hopefully Jovo can score three every night or myself of Mo (Derek Morris) can do it next. I think we'd all be happy with that."

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