Monday, March 12, 2012

Preds hold on to get crucial two points in Glendale



The Nashville Predators were able to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes in a shootout by a 5-4 score on Monday night. Games between these two teams are normally low-scoring, tight-checking games. This one was not.

Martin Erat got the ball rolling for the Predators in the first period when he was able to squeeze one past Mike Smith to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Sergei Kostitsyn made a nifty drop pass to give Erat time and space. Erat threw a shot on goal that Smith was unable to corral. The Predators led 1-0 after the first period.

Phoenix would respond just 49 seconds into the second period when Daymond Langkow redirected a shot past Pekka Rinne to tie the game at one goal. The Predators would retake the lead at 11:04 of the second period, however, when Mike Fisher converted on a great pass from Sergei Kostitsyn after a flurry of chances for both teams. However, the Coyotes weren't going to go away.

Keith Yandle tied the game at two for Phoenix on a great individual play. He got the puck at the point and made a few moves to create time and space. Yandle fired a quick wrist shot through traffic past Rinne on the glove side. Nashville would retake the lead once again, however, when Francis Bouillon scored his first goal of the year. Bouillon led the rush and fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Smith. Bouillon got his own rebound, however, and was able to fire it past Smith on the second shot. Nashville had a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

Craig Smith gave the Predators a two-goal lead on a beautiful breakaway move at 2:36 of the third period. Paul Gaustad made a beautiful pass through two Coyote defenders, and Smith was able to score on a beautiful backhand move.

Phoenix was able to battle back. Oliver Ekman-Larsson pulled the Coyotes within one when he fired a simple wrist shot from the point that snuck past Rinne. After that goal, Phoenix really controlled the play for the remainder of the third period. They were able to get the equalizer once again when Raffi Torres scored in a scrum in front of Rinne.

In overtime, both teams had several chances to win the game. Yandle found himself wide open in the slot with a wide open net but wasn't able to convert. After a back and forth overtime frame, the game moved to the shootout.

Rinne starred for the Predators in the shootout. He stopped all three Phoenix attempts, while Andrei Kostitsyn was able to score the lone goal in the shootout for the Predators. Nashville got away with a 5-4 win despite playing sloppy for the majority of the game.

With the win, the Predators improve to a 41-21-7 record for 89 points, and are now just two points behind the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference standings. The road team won each game in the regular season series between the Coyotes and Predators this year.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Martin Erat(NSH)
2. Daymond Langkow(PHX)
3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson(PHX)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson(PHX)
2. Daymond Langkow(PHX)
3. Martin Erat(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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