GLENDALE, Ariz. – Put J.P. Dumont on the ice with a couple of youngsters, and suddenly he looks like a kid, too.
Dumont recorded his first hat trick in 9 1/2 years to lead the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 win over Phoenix on Tuesday, the Coyotes’ second home loss in as many days.
The 32-year-old forward has four career three-goal games, but this was his first since Nov. 12, 2001. After just four goals in his first 45 games this season, Dumont has five in his last two. His resurrection coincides with a decision by coach Barry Trotz to cut back his minutes and put him on the same line as Chris Mueller, playing his ninth game, and Matt Halischuk, playing his second.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Dumont said. “My first goal tonight was just an unbelievable forecheck by those two guys.
“I just find the open spot. That’s definitely fun hockey for me.”
Dumont scored one in the first period and two in the second in an almost-empty Jobing.com Arena, where the crowd was announced at 8,236 but was far smaller.
“I give him a lot of credit. He really went through a dry spell,” Trotz said. “I asked him to do a couple of things differently, so that he’s skating better and he’s involved and he’s part of it and not standing, adjust to the game to what it is now and not what it was 10 years ago.”
Patric Hornqvist scored the other two goals for Nashville.
Radim Vrbata and Lee Stempniak scored for Phoenix as the Coyotes lost two in a row at home for the first time this season.
With the loss, the Coyotes slipped two spots to sixth in the West, with Nashville and Anaheim passing them.
“We’re making far too many errors and our whole game is out of sync here the last two,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “Part of it is our schedule, it has been a hard go here for a few weeks so you got to go into games like this and you really got to have a strong mental attitude on how you are going to win the game.
“We have not had a strong enough attitude that way.”
The Predators, winners of eight of their last 10, scored twice in a 12-second span, on goals by Dumont and Hornqvist, to go up 2-0 just 6 1/2 minutes into the game.
Tippett called a timeout and the Coyotes came back strong.
Phoenix cut the lead to 2-1 at 10:31 of the first period when Nashville’s Shane O’Brien accidentally knocked the puck into the net. Vrbata got credit for the goal.
The Coyotes tied it 2-2 with 59 seconds left in the period on a power play when Stempniak, while spinning away from the play, was able to backhand the puck into the net past goalie Pekka Rinne. The goal came 38 seconds after the Predators’ Alexander Sulzer was sent to the penalty box for hooking.
A Nashville power play had just ended when the Predators regained the lead 3-2, Dumont slipping the puck past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov 11:25 into the second.
The Predators made it 4-2 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the second period when Halischuk’s shot bounced off the crossbar and right to Dumont, who rebounded it in. Nashville didn’t even take another shot until Hornqvist’s wrist shot went in with just 5:31 to play.
“We had enough to win. We didn’t have to get any shots,” Trotz said. “But if they really tried to force something we could come and counter.
“I think the guys did a real good job there.”
NOTES: D Michal Rozsival made his Phoenix debut after being acquired by the Coyotes in the trade that sent Wojtec Wolski to the New York Rangers. … Coyotes D Ed Jovanovski missed his third straight game with a lower body injury. … Dumont is two games shy of 800 for his career. …. Rinne sat out Sunday’s 6-3 loss at Chicago, only the second time he has not played this season. … Dumont never has had a four-goal game. … The NHL suspended San Jose forward Scott Nichol four games for delivering a hit to the head of Coyotes defenceman David Schlemko in the Sharks’ 4-2 victory Monday.