The Predators and Coyotes were both clawing to get back into the win column, but thanks to an all-out assault from Phoenix and a shutout performance from Chad Johnson (starting in only his 7th game in the NHL) the Predators once again suffer a loss on this 7-game road trip (1-2-1).
Momentum was huge and it paid dividends for Phoenix. Antoine Vermette got the scoring started with a beauty of a wrister that handcuffed Pekka Rinne and got the Coyotes on the board in the first period. Rinne would make a huge save against Chipchura in what should have been a sure goal, but the Finnish netminder slid to the right and pad saved the tap-in to keep it 1-0 through the first period. Once again, Nashville had an anemic 3 SOG in the first despite having 2 power play chances. The problem as pointed out by Terry Crisp during the broadcast was that the Predators don’t shoot the puck when the shot presents itself. Bourque was guilty of passing up a glorious chance in the slot, and Wilson was on the doorstep of a great Kostitsyn feed only to pull it back away and allow Chad Johnson to slide over and stop it with his pads.
The second period started to turn in Nashville’s favor, but even with more sustained pressure through the mid-way of the second, Phoenix would go up 2-0 with some insufficient zone-clearing on the part of the Predators. Goal by Korpikoski was dirty and that kind of rebound chance is exactly what Nashville was missing tonight not having Hornqvist in the lineup with a knee injury.
The third period would see the Coyotes just keep piling on Nashville as Nick Johnson would score his first goal of the year with a 4-on-2 wrist shot beating Pekka Rinne. Yandle would come through on the PP for Phoenix at 13:15 of the third to make it 4-0. The Predators did start to show signs of life and determination pressing the Coyotes and causing havoc in their zone, but the damage was already done and fighting to come back from a 2 or 3 goal deficit to a Tippett-coached team is most times a fruitless pursuit.
Powerplay – 0 for 3, 0%
Penalty Kill – 4 for 5, 80%
Best Play of the Game: The cycle of the Predators mid-way through the second period keeping the Coyotes pinned for a good 2-3 minute shift. Didn’t translate to a goal, but was encouraging to see.
Worst Play of the Game: Pekka Rinne getting beat by Vermette on what looked to be a simple wrister that he saw the whole way. Rinne can make some of the most game-defying saves, yet somehow manages to let in some of these high-glove heat-seekers from time to time.
My Three Stars:
#1: – Chad Johnson
#2: – Keith Yandle
#3: – Nick Johnson
See you Thursday night as the Predators travel to L.A. to take on Kings in the fifth game of this 7-game road trip. Game is at 9:30pm CT