NASHVILLE – The Phoenix Coyotes want two points every chance they get, and coach Dave Tippett doesn’t care about extra credit for style or extra offence.
Adrian Aucoin lifted a wrister over the glove of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in the 10th round of the shootout, and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Predators 1-0 Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.
Lauri Korpikoski scored in the second round for Phoenix with a wrister over Rinne’s stick, but David Legwand tied it as Nashville’s third shooter. The Predators had a chance to keep the tiebreaker going after Aucoin scored, but Shea Weber’s shot went wide left.
Tippett called it the ultimate “mucky road game.”
“That was as mucky as it gets. A break was going to win it. We didn’t get the break in either regulation or overtime, and so it went to a shootout and anything can happen there,” Tippett said.
The Coyotes, who have won eight of 10, matched their best winning streak of the season. They are 6-4 in shootouts.
“We keep climbing and putting some distance between teams,” Coyotes defenceman Ed Jovanovski said. “I don’t know that we’re happy, but we’re satisfied. As we get to this latter part of the season, the stretch drive, we’d like to gain as many points as we can.”
Phoenix came in fourth in the Western Conference with this the second stop in a four-game road trip. Ilya Bryzgalov helped the Coyotes pull out this victory in a game where neither team could score through regulation and had only one power play each.
The clubs combined for five shots in overtime.
“There wasn’t a lot of space, so when you moved, you had to fight for inches,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “It wasn’t overly physical in terms of dirty or nasty, but it was a hard game because it was a goal line stand on both sides. Both teams were pushing back, and we knew one puck would be the difference.”
Bryzgalov, a Russian Olympian, stopped 22 shots in the third period Sunday of a 4-2 win at Dallas for his career-best 29th victory. He is the first Coyotes goalie with 30 wins in a season since Curtis Joseph had 32 in the 2005-06 season.
“His whole game was impressive,” Tippett said. “Chances in the shootout are the best you’re going to get, and he was excellent. He gave us a chance to win, and that’s all we can ask for.”
He stopped 11 shots in the third, including Martin Erat’s drive from the right circle just past the 14-minute mark. That came just after J.P. Dumont couldn’t get off a shot during a rush a minute earlier. Bryzgalov stopped three shots in overtime and shined in the shootout.
Bryzgalov challenged the shooters, coming out and using his stick to break up shots from Erat, and Steve Sullivan. Legwand found the net by beating Bryzgalov between the pads for Nashville’s only goal.
“Obviously, Bryzgalov has a very active stick,” Trotz said. “We knew that, and we couldn’t get one by him.”
Jovanovski said they knew the next goal would win in a game with both goalies playing great.
“He’s been there all year,” he said of Bryzgalov. “On most nights, we count on him to be our best player, and he’s done that.”
Phoenix leads the season series 2-0, including a 4-2 home win on Jan. 21.
Rinne was starting his second straight game after the Predators snapped a five-game skid Saturday night to start a four-game homestand that is Nashville’s last before the Olympic break. He smothered a shot from Aucoin from near the blue line less than 2 minutes into overtime and was matching Bryzgalov shot for shot until Aucoin beat him to end the game.
The Predators consoled themselves with at least grabbing a point after coming in seventh in the West.
“The important fact is that we still are making up ground on other teams,” Sullivan said.
NOTES: Predators D Cody Franson sustained an upper body injury in the first period and didn’t return. Team officials said his condition will be updated Wednesday. … Nashville C Marcel Goc returned after missing three games because of an injury. … Phoenix C Peter Mueller played in his 200th NHL game. … Nashville is 4-2 in shootouts this season.