Photo by Norm Hall
Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis collides with Phoenix forward Mike Zigomanis during Monday's game.
The Phoenix Coyotes scored three unanswered goals--including two in the third period--to overcome a 2-0 deficit and hand the Nashville Predators a 3-2 loss Monday night at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. The loss, which begins a four-game West Coast road trip for the Predators, was just the third in regulation for Nashville in the team's last 23 games. The Predators' record moves to 17-6-3.
Despite some early penalty trouble, the Predators got off to a solid start on the scoreboard. A short-handed tally by Steve Sullivan in the first period made it 1-0, then Alexander Radulov scored a deflection goal 16:50 into the second to make it 2-0. Less than a minute after Radulov's goal, Oleg Saprykin poked a puck under Predators goaltender Chris Mason to cut it to 2-1 at 17:41. Phoenix then capitalized on a carryover power play, scoring on the first shift of the third period to knot the game at 2-2. Former Predator Yanic Perreault netted the tying goal.
Patrick Fischer collected the game-winner 8:40 into the third, redirecting a pass from Ladislav Nagy past Mason. The play developed off a face-off in Nashville's zone. Dave Scatchard won the draw back to defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who attempted a shot but had it blocked by a Nashville defender. The blocked shot caromed to Nagy in the right circle and he wired a hard pass through to the tape of Fischer's free stick in front.
Penalties down the stretch sapped any momentum from Nashville and chewed up clock time to help Phoenix preserve their fifth straight home win. For the game the Predators committed eight penalties while the Coyotes were whistled for three, a disparity that was a contributing factor in the 42-21 shot disadvantage for Nashville.
The Predators found themselves in a bit of penalty trouble in the opening 20 minutes, allowing three full power plays to the Coyotes. But it was Nashville who won the special teams battle in the first period, getting a short-handed goal from Sullivan at 6:24 to open the scoring. Mason stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first, while the Predators beat Phoenix netminder Mikael Tellqvist one time on six shots.
Sullivan's goal was a beauty and developed off a face-off in the Predators' end. Sullivan won the draw back to teammate Shea Weber, who fired the puck up the right side boards. Phoenix forward Shane Doan tried to stop the clearing attempt at the blueline but inadvertently sent the puck toward the center of the zone. That's where Sullivan picked it up as he rushed up ice, and he sent the puck ahead to David Legwand. Sullivan then used his speed to outrace Doan and create a 2-on-1 with Legwand to his left. Legwand held the puck then faked a shot as he neared the top of the left face-off circle. As the lone Coyotes defender, Jovanovski reacted to the fake, allowing Legwand space to feed a pass to Sullivan low in the right circle. Sullivan had plenty of net for his redirection once Legwand's pass arrived.
Mason turned in several key saves in the first period, including a big stop on a threatening shot by Doan from the top of the left circle in Nashville's zone near the 17:00 mark. Earlier, Mason turned aside a chance by Nagy five minutes into the game and then denied Saprykin and Jeremy Roenick's follow-up 40 seconds later.
Nashville had a brief 5-on-3 power play 7:40 into the second period, but couldn't capitalize despite good chances by Paul Kariya and Marek Zidlicky. Tellqvist then made a nice save at the 9:00 mark to knock away Ryan Suter's drive from the slot, and defenseman Kimmo Timonen hit the post minutes later as the game opened up. Suter, J.P. Dumont and Sullivan combined to generate a nice scoring bid that Tellqvist turned aside, but Radulov broke through to make it 2-0 at 16:50. Like Nashville's first goal, this one developed on a face-off. This time, however, the draw was in the offensive zone. Josef Vasicek was kicked out of the face-off by the presiding linesman, prompting Scott Hartnell to step in for the draw. Hartnell won the puck back and Vasicek swooped in to send it to Weber at the right point. Weber wound and fired a shot that Radulov tipped with the blade of his stick past Tellqvist into the far side of the net.
The 2-0 lead didn't last long, as Saprykin scored on a play that Mason and the Predators seemingly thought was dead. Mason knocked down a wrist shot by Mike Zigomanis and intended to cover the puck. Georges Laraque swatted at Mason's gloved hands as he passed by the net, jarring the puck loose. Saprykin trailed the play and located the rubber disc near Mason's left leg pad, poking it under the Predators goaltender to cut Phoenix's deficit in half at 17:41.
A confrontation in one of the corners late in the second saw Nashville's Darcy Hordichuk and Jordin Tootoo each take a trip to the penalty box while only Jovanovski went off for Phoenix. That set up the power play that yielded Perreault's eighth goal of the season 28 seconds into the third period.
Vasicek had the Predators' best chance of the final stanza, sending a sharp-angle shot from the right side through the crease and wide left with roughly two minutes gone. But for the bulk of period the Coyotes carried the play, as indicated by the 16-3 shot total in Phoenix's favor. Doan hit the crossbar and Nagy was stopped on a chance off a turnover before Fischer gave his side the lead at 8:40.
The Predators will look to rebound from Monday's loss when they travel to Anaheim to face a hot Ducks team on Wednesday night. Game time is 9:00 p.m. CT and fans can catch all the action on FSN South and 104.5-FM The Zone.
NOTES: Defenseman Shea Weber posted two assists Monday and now has three points (1g-2a) in his last two games... Sullivan's goal was his eighth of the season and Nashville's fourth short-handed tally of the 2006-07 campaign. Sullivan scored one of the other three as well. Sullivan has six points (2g-4a) over the last five Predators games... Alexander Radulov's goal Monday gives him a goal in five of the past six games... Nashville's power play went 0-for-2 vs. Phoenix... Jerred Smithson and Greg Zanon were scratches for Nashville.