By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators ended their four game homestand with a 3-2 loss to the surging Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix has now won seven games in a row.
Jordin Tootoo marked his return to the Predators lineup seeing 10:03 total ice time, with 1 shot and two hits. Tootoo took his first shift at 3:35 into the game and was welcomed back to the ice with a thunderous cheer.
Tootoo noticed the fan reaction. “Nashville, the fans, have been tremendous with me since day one. It’s just great to see the support they’ve given me. I want to give a round of applause to them. Without their support and what not–they’re by far the best fans I’ve every played in front of,” Tootoo said.
Nashville had an early power play opportunity when Scottie Upshall was called for interference at just 1:42 of the first period, but the Predators were unable to generate any offense. In fact, it wasn’t until the 13:30 minute mark of the opening frame that the Predators registered their first shot on goal.
Shots on goal in the first period were just 5-4 in favor Phoenix.
After a scoreless first period, three goals were scored in the second period.
Just 10 seconds into the middle frame, Phoenix Captain Shane Doan was awarded a penalty shot when he was hauled down on a breakaway. Doan tried to beat Rinne on the blocker side but the Predators netminder wasn’t foiled.
Doan said Rinne is an intimidating goaltender. “I tried to go five-hole; tried to get him to freeze for a second. He’s so good; it’s intimidating when you come in on him and he’s as confident as he is.”
The Coyotes, however, opened the scoring at 3:51 into the second period when Keith Yandle notched his 10th goal of the season with a shot from the blueline. Eric Belanger picked up the assist.
Taylor Pyatt made it a 2-0 game when he skated in on Rinne and shot the puck up over his shoulder. Andrew Ebbett picked up the assist.
The Predators pulled within one when Sergei Kostitysn scored his 16th goal of the season. Mike Fisher shot the puck from the side of the net and Kostitsyn banged in the rebound, putting the puck over the blocker of Ilya Bryzgalov. Nashville was on the power play with Doan in the box for Delay of Game when he shot the puck over the glass in his own defensive end.
Nashville picked up two penalties in the second period, one for too many men on the ice and the second for unsportsmanlike conduct when Ryan Suter complained to the officials for not calling a penalty on Doan who had hit Suter in the head with his elbow.
Suter did not return to the game in the third period. The team is calling it an upper body injury. After the game, Head Coach Barry Trotz said the team does not have an update on his condition and that he is listed as day-to-day.
The Coyotes extended their lead when, with Pyatt and Hornqvist in the box for roughing, Lauri Korpikowski notched his 13th goal of the season with a slapshot, high on the glove side of Rinne at 7:32 of the third period.
It looked like the Predators had tied things up when Mike Fisher’s shot from the slot beat Bryzgalov, but the referee called it off, calling Shane O’Brien for high-sticking Derek Morris in front of the net.
“I have no problem with the referees–it’s more so like that I cross-checked and took his whole top row out. I was just going to the net; it was accidental. I don’t think there was even a mark on his face,” O’Brien said about the penalty, “That’s the only thing I was frustrated with. The officials have a job to do. If he sees my stick in his face, then he’s got to call a penalty. But this is a man’s game; men playing against men. I think I grazed maybe the side of his face, and he sold it like I crosschecked and took his whole wrow out.”
As O’Brien sat in the penalty box he put a white towel over his stick and began waving it. The frustration of losing key players and not getting any calls was starting to set in.
The Predators did claw their way back into it when Shea Weber scored
his 12th of the season, a blast from the point on a delayed penalty call on Phoenix with only 49.1 seconds left in the game.
Nashville couldn’t find the equalizer, though they did generate some buzz around the net in the final seconds of the game.
The Predators don’t play again until Tuesday night when they visit Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. The next Predators home game is on Thursday when Chicago comes to town for the last time during the regular season.
Follow Predlines on Twitter @Predlines