By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators hosted the Phoenix Coyotes for the second of four meetings between the two clubs this season. Last time they met, the Coyotes edged Nashville 4-3 on the strength of an Ed Jovanovski hat trick, his first. This time, Pekka Rinne earned his third shutout of the season giving Nashville the 3-0 win in a game where 10 minor penalties were called.
It was the first regulation win for Nashville since November 18th when the Predators beat Montreal, also by the same 3-0 score.
Coach Barry Trotz decided to mix up the lines to spark some offense from the forwards. The most creative line was the combination of Marcel Goc centering Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn. The makeshift line generated several scoring chances, despite only registering 3 shots on goal.
Martin Erat drew two penalties for the team and had two shots in the slot in front of the net, but both went wide.
Colin Wilson, who scored the lone Predators goal in regulation against the Rangers on Saturday, was moved onto the top line with Cal O’Reilly and Steve Sullivan. This move pushed Patric Hornqvist to a line with JP Dumont and Nick Spaling.
The only line that had seen action together before was Jerred Smithson centering Jordin Tootoo and Joel Ward.
Head coach Barry Trotz said that changing up the lines “gave a little flexibility. One of the things that happens is you get a line that you begin to rely on. We really started to rely on O’Reilly’s line a lot in the first 20 games, just because we’ve had injuries in the middle.”
“They were looking a little haggard, if you will,” Trotz said.
After one period of play, the shots were 10-4 in favor of Phoenix but it was the Predators who held a 1-0 lead going into the second period.
Nashville killed off all three power play opportunities given to Phoenix. The Predators have killed off 24 consecutive penalties. In fact, the Predators have not given up a power play goal since they allowed Toronto to score four of them in the second period on November 16th.
Just a minute into the game, Joel Ward taking a tripping penalty on Martin Hanzel just 1:02 minutes into the game. During the penalty kill, Jerred Smithson drew a penalty at 2:26 of the first when David Schlemko was called for interference on Smithson. Had Smithson been able to get to the puck he would have had a clear breakaway on Coyotes netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.
Nashville capitalized on the man advantage. Shea Weber scored his third goal of the season. Weber tried to pass the puck to Patric Hornqvist in front of the net, but it was redirected back onto the stick of Weber and he found the back of the net at 3:36 of the first period. It was Nashville’s first shot on goal in the game. It was also the first time a power play goal was the game-winning goal for Nashville since their second game of the season in Chicago, when Joel Ward scored in the final minute of the game to break a tie.
During the second period, the Predators were awarded a 5-on-3 with both defensemen Derek Morris and Adrien Aucoin in the penalty box. Nashville capitalized when Cal O’Reilly scored his fifth goal of the season on a feed from Steve Sullivan.
O’Reilly said the team had been practicing their 5-on-3 power play. “We just went through out options. We’ve been practicing it every week and we just wanted to make sure that we executed and went through our options. Sullivan made a great pass–he did all the work and I had an empty net there.”
The third period saw Nashville on the power play three more times, but they were unable to convert on any of their man advantages.
Jordin Tootoo made the game 3-0 when he scored an empty net goal with 25 seconds play to play. The empty-net goal was Tootoo’s third of the season.
Captain Shea Weber said the third period was not the best for Nashville. “It was sloppy. I think all of us kind of sat back and we need to play the same way all 60 minutes.” Coach Trotz agreed saying the team would need a better effort when they play the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. The next Predators home game is Saturday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Nashville.
Topics: Barry Trotz, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ed Jovanovski, Illya Bryzgalov, Jerred Smithson, Joel Ward, Jordin Tootoo, Marcel Goc, Martin Erat, Nashville Predators, NHL, Patric Hornqvist, Pekka Rinne, Phoenix Coyotes, Sergei Kostitsyn, Steve Sullivan