Having opened the season with three losses, Scott Hartnell and Paul Kariya each scored a goal to help Nashville beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday night. The Coyotes have just one win in their first five games.
“We played a team that was very desperate,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “I thought we had a lot of urgency to our game. As we continued playing we started getting more confidence. “
The first victory of the season for Nashville was easily the most complete performance by the team this season. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who turned back 29 of 30 shots, including 16 in the third period, talked about the importance of staying with the system.
“We are a good team,” said Vokoun. “There is no question about that. We can put the puck in the net. We have a lot of guys who are great defensively. You just have to have everybody pull in the same direction and believe in the same things. I don’t care who we play. If we play within our system we are fine.”
Kariya started the scoring for the Predators at 6:49 of the first period. It was also his first goal of the season. Jason Arnott took a shot from just inside the top of the left circle. Kariya re-directed the puck into the net behind Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph.
“We had a lot of energy,” said Kariya. “We were rolling four lines early. We were making the right plays at the right time.”
Martin Erat gave the Predators a 2-0 lead as he skated across the edge of the crease and put the puck in from the left side at 12:53 of the first period.
Arnott assisted on both goals, and added a third on a second-period goal by Ryan Suter.
“Kariya, Erat and Arnott are all three dynamic players in their own right,” said Trotz. “I think they are smart and intelligent. The biggest thing is they were working.”
Fredrik Sjostrom made it 2-1 with 2:13 left in the first period with a power-play goal. He skated in from the right circle and shot the puck high over Tomas Vokoun’s shoulder.
In the second period the Predators scored a pair of goals.
Kimmo Timonen blasted a one-timer on the power play from the top of the point from just inside the blue line that was tipped into the net by Scott Hartnell at 10:28.
Suter scored his first goal when his shot from the left side bounced off the chest of Joseph and the loose puck was knocked in by Enver Lisin of Phoenix.
Neither team scored in the third period. The Coyotes have been outscored 20-5 in their last four games.
“We’ve got to find ways to put the puck in the net,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. “We have got to find some ways to generate some offence.”
With the Predators heading to New York for three games starting Monday night against the Islanders, the win was even more crucial.”
Notes: Vernon Fiddler skated in his first game for Nashville after being a healthy scratch for the first three games. … Nashville’s Jerred Smithson skated in his 100th NHL game. … The Predators wore their gold jerseys for the first time this season. They were 10-2-0 when wearing the third jerseys last season.