GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The new Glendale Arena should be an asset to the
Phoenix Coyotes in the long run. On opening night it wasn't much help against
the Nashville Predators.
Scott Walker had a goal and two assists, helping the Predators spoil
Phoenix's first game in its new arena by beating the Coyotes 3-1 Saturday
Marek Zidlicky had a goal and an assist, and Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves to
further silence the standing-room-only crowd of 19,052 in the 17,799-seat
"We had to come out and kill some of the energy of the crowd and the
excitement," coach Barry Trotz said. "We got a good lead, and we were very
focused, and I thought we were able to frustrate them."
The $220 million suburban arena is expected to make the Coyotes profitable
after the team lost millions each season in the America West Arena in downtown
Phoenix, where more than one-fourth of the 16,200 hockey seats had an
obstructed view of the ice.
Coyotes players and opponents alike also used to complain about ice quality
in the old building, built for the NBA's Phoenix Suns. They found the new ice
sheet more acceptable.
"It was pretty good," Vokoun said. "In these climates it's never going to
be perfect. It's not like you're in the mountains where it's minus 20 degrees,
so I think it was pretty smooth, and the building is pretty. It's great to have
a new building; the old arena wasn't really good for hockey."
"The ice was quick and good," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "There is
Brian Savage spoiled Vokoun's shutout bid by scoring 8:21 into the third
period, but the Predators regained their two-goal lead when Martin Erat
deflected a shot by Robert Schnabel past Phoenix goaltender Sean Burke with
Burke made just 18 saves.
Phoenix hasn't won at home since Dec. 10 against Dallas. The Coyotes were
unbeaten (1-0-3) on a road trip that followed their 5-2 loss to Minnesota in
their last game at America West on Dec. 15. They tied the Predators 3-3 in
Nashville on Monday, with Walker scoring all three goals.
"It's just the ebb and flow of it all," he said. "It's just when things
go in, and it just so happened things went in against these guys in Nashville
and then again tonight."
Walker opened the scoring when Zidlicky passed him the puck through a
defender's legs. Walker swept it into the net with 5:43 left in the first
Savage appeared to tie it with 1:52 to go in the period when he flicked a
loose puck past Vokoun. But Doan, knocked headfirst into the crease seconds
before, was pinned there when the puck crossed the goal line, and the score was
"Obviously, we would have loved to score the first goal and get them right
into it, but it didn't happen that way," Savage said. "We had a lot of
chances, and you have to give credit to their goaltender."
Walker started the next scoring play when he left a drop pass for David
Legwand, who sent the puck to Zidlicky in the circle. The defenseman made it
2-0 with a shot that bounced off Burke's knee and out of his glove before
landing in the corner of the net 4:17 into the second period.
It was enough for Nashville, which improved to 12-0-1-1 when leading after
Fifth-year Coyotes coach Bob Francis, the longest-tenured coach in franchise
history, praised co-owners Steve Ellman and Jerry Moyes and managing partner
Wayne Gretzky for getting the building finished.
"They had a vision," Francis said. "What stood out for me was coming out
to Glendale 18 months ago when we broke ground. Build it, they will come."