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Mazanec earns fourth win in 29 save performance over Coyotes

Mazanec Gaustad Legwand Win

Nov 26, 2013


Marek Mazanec is getting a crash course in North American hockey at an advanced level.

On Thursday night, the Predators netminder earned his fourth win since being called up on November 5, as Nashville downed the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 at Bridgestone Arena.

“I still have to get used to it, but I do feel a little more comfortable than a couple of weeks ago,” Mazanec said.

In the first two periods of the game, the Czech goaltender faced 19 Phoenix shots, but allowed two goals.

The first Phoenix goal came off of the stick of Mikkel Boedker at 9:34 of the second period while Nashville held a 3-0 lead. Per Mazanec and Nashville head coach Barry Trotz, Mazanec seemed to be lifted off the ice on the goal by a Phoenix stick.

“I think the first goal shouldn’t have counted because of interference, but it happens,” Mazanec said.

The second Coyotes goal came from Tim Kennedy at 13:00 of the second period.

“They didn’t have a lot of shots (in the first period), so I wasn’t warmed up,” Mazanec said. “It’s much harder when you don’t face a lot of shots.

“The first two periods today, I didn’t feel good,” he continued. “I thought I played pretty bad. My stick handling was bad. I gave up too pretty easy goals. The third period though was good.”

After letting in the second Coyotes goal, Mazanec faced 14 more Phoenix shots, stopping all 14.

“I was busy (in the third),” he continued. “I like it when I’m busy. It was a good period for me.”

Mazanec finished the game saving 29 of the 31 shots that he faced while earning the victory. His record in the three weeks that he has been on the team has improved to 4-3-0, while his goals against average has lowered to 2.28 and his save percentage has risen to .929.

“He had some really good saves, especially late in the game,” Mike Fisher said. “He kept us in it and has been playing really well and confident. He’s doing a really good job.”

Mazanec being in Nashville at this point was never in the plan. Just two months ago, he came into training camp as Milwaukee’s backup goaltender. However, his stellar performance early with Milwaukee, combined with Pekka Rinne’s hip injury and Carter Hutton’s ineffectiveness thrust him into Nashville’s starting role. A 2012 draft pick, Mazanec did not even come to North America until training camp this season.

The 22-year-old is admittedly playing with a bit of desperation and knows that, in terms of his development, he really has not been prepared for the role that he currently has.

“It’s coming in little bits,” Mazanec said. “It’s still hard. It’s still the NHL and I don’t have enough experience with this league. I still have a lot to learn.”

For several games after Rinne’s injury, Nashville struggled to find a groove in net. Carter Hutton gave up three or more goals in six consecutive starts, while Mazanec has given up two or fewer in each of his last five starts. Since Nashville returned from their seven-game road trip, Mazanec has been 4-1-0 with a .950 save percentage and a 1.61 goals against average.

“He’s not doing anything to not give us confidence, that’s for sure,” Trotz said.

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua