Rinne, Predators blank Coyotes

GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) — Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne’s
biggest challenge Saturday night was his defense’s efficiency.

Rinne made 18 saves for his seventh shutout of the season, and
J.P. Dumont and David Legwand scored in the Predators’ 2-0
victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Rinne faced only eight shots over the first two periods, causing
some concern for Nashville coach Barry Trotz.

“I was worried after two periods that they didn’t have a lot of
shots,” Trotz said. “I knew they’d have their best effort in
the third, come with everything and that we’d have to weather
some storms. Pekka was up to the challenge.”

Rinne stayed focused by playing the puck whenever it came near
him, infrequent as the chances may have been.

“Obviously, it’s hard when you only face eight shots in the
first two periods,” Rinne said. “But it’s all mental. You just
try to be sharp. They didn’t have anything the first two
periods and the guys showed how important a game it is. It’s a
life or die game for us.”

The Predators snapped a three-game losing streak, and moved into
a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with Edmonton –
a point behind Dallas.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves for the Coyotes, who have lost five
straight and eight of their last nine. Phoenix is 4-16-1 since
the All-Star break.

“I thought it might have been his best game of the year tonight
and he’s had a few good ones,” Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said.

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Dumont opened the scoring with 5:59 left in the second period,
one-timing Steve Sullivan’s pass over Bryzgalov’s right shoulder
from the high slot.

Legwand added an empty-netter with 30.3 seconds left, skating in
from center ice and flipping the puck into the net from the left
faceoff circle.

Rinne rarely was tested, facing only four shots each in the
first and second periods. The Coyotes managed 10 shots in the
final period, but had almost no real scoring chances.

“The problem is it was all in the third period,” Coyotes captain
Shane Doan said. “Eight shots after two periods in your home
building, it’s embarrassing. It’s going to be better moving
forward. It will be better.”

Rinne is 12-3-1 since February 1 and recorded his third shutout
in six weeks. Three of those wins have come against the
Coyotes, with Rinne stopping 72 of 74 shots.

“We all knew Pekka was a solid goaltender but what he’s done
this year has been pretty amazing,” Dumont said. “We have two
good goaltenders and we know every time they make a big save we
have to score big goals for them.”

The Predators were without center Jason Arnott and Radek Bonk.
Arnott has missed consecutive games with an upper body injury,
while Bonk has been out of the lineup since February 22, also
because of an upper body injury.