GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes wrapped up home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, and they’re taking plenty of momentum with them.
Shane Doan ended a 23-game goal drought, Wojtek Wolski scored his career-high 23rd goal and the Coyotes clinched the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
It was the seventh straight victory at home for Phoenix, which could face Nashville in the opening round. The Predators, who have one game remaining, are tied for fifth with Detroit in the West.
“(The win) was big,” said Taylor Pyatt, who scored the deciding goal. “We talked about it before the game. There’s excitement in the building, in the area for the playoffs. We want to take advantage of that … and we’re really looking forward to staring the playoffs at home.”
Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves, and Lauri Korpikoski and Petteri Nokelainen also scored. Keith Yandle finished with two assists for the second straight game. Korpikoski also ended a long drought. His last goal was Jan. 23.
Doan had been stuck on 17 goals since Jan. 31 before scoring with 2:28 left to put Phoenix up 4-2 and help put this one away. After scoring, Doan lay on his back and looked up at the rafters.
“It’s great for Doaner,” Bryzgalov said. “He tries so hard. It’s so many games. We all felt bad for him. It was bad luck on his side. He would hit the post or the goalie would make the save or just miss the net. He deserved that goal, and it was a big goal for us.”
Pyatt gave the Coyotes the lead for good with 9:24 to play shortly after Bryzgalov came up with a big save on David Legwand.
“It’s obviously the biggest play of the game,” Doan said.
Shea Weber scored 12 seconds into the game, and Steve Sullivan added a goal for Nashville in its first game since clinching its fifth playoff berth in six seasons.
Sullivan tied it at 2 off a rebound on a power play at 5:53 of the third period before give up three unanswered goals.
“We didn’t have enough detail in our game and it ended up costing us,” Weber said.
Pekka Rinne made 25 saves for Nashville but didn’t get enough help in front of him, coach Barry Trotz said.
“We were sloppy,” he said. “There were some guys, I didn’t like their compete level.”
Wolski’s goal late in the second period gave the Coyotes a 2-1 advantage. Yandle set up the play with a two-line stretch pass from near his own goal to Wolski, who raced in and beat Rinne stick side for his eighth point in the last six games.
Weber fired a shot past Bryzgalov from the high slot to open the scoring 1-0 12 seconds into the game. It was the second-fastest goal in Predators history. David Legwand at 11 seconds on April 5, 2007, against St. Louis.
“They kept coming in the first few minutes of the game,” Doan said. “They controlled the play and we were able to kind of withstand that.”
Phoenix answered less than two minutes later when Korpikoski picked up the puck near centre ice, broke away from the pack and beat Rinne.
Nokelainen added an empty-net goal with 18.8 seconds remaining.
NOTES: Predators captain Jason Arnott returned to the lineup after missing eight games because of a concussion. … Phoenix last had home-ice advantage in a playoff series in 1999 when it lost to St. Louis in seven games. … Bryzgalov was selected the Coyotes’ MVP before the game. … Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist left the game in the second period and did not return after being hit by Weber’s shot.