NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) — Joel Ward had a goal and an
assist and the Nashville Predators recorded their third straight
win Thursday with a 4-1 triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Captain Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan and David Legwand also
scored for the Predators as they followed Tuesday’s five-goal
outburst against Chicago with another stellar offensive
performance in this one.
“That was a big win against a team that was back in the pack a
little bit,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose team is one
point behind Minnesota, Edmonton, Dallas and Anaheim in the
tightly packed Western Conference.
“Hopefully the right teams win, and the right teams lose so we
can get closer into that pack.”
Rookie Pekka Rinne made sure the four goals stood up, stopping
25 shots to record his second win over the Coyotes this month.
“Tonight was a pretty easy game for me,” Rinne said. “They
didn’t have too many scoring chances. I don’t think they were
ready to go at the beginning of the game, and we took advantage
Atlanta held a 47-26 advantage in shots on goal, but Ilya
Bryzgalov made 32 of his 43 saves in the opening two periods to
keep Phoenix within a goal at 2-1.
“Well, the first period would have been 5-0 if not for the
goaltending. We got outskated, and we came out flat,” Phoenix
coach Wayne Gretzky said. “We’re paid a lot of money to play
the game, and you should at least give an effort. It wasn’t a
very good effort tonight.”
Ward’s 10th goal of the season doubled the advantage for
Nashville just 85 seconds into the third. In his first full
season in the NHL, Ward spun in the left faceoff circle and put
the puck between the pads of Bryzgalov.
“You are not going to score unless you shoot,” Ward said. “I
was fortunate to kind of slip one by him.”
The Predators put the game away on a 4-on-1 break with just
under 5 1/2 minutes to go. Ward fed a wide-open Legwand, who
scored his 16th goal of the season and extended the bulge to
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski had the lone tally for Phoenix, which
fell to 3-11-0 in its last 14 games.
“The whole game, Bryzgalov was unbelievable,” Phoenix captain
Shane Doan said. “The power play didn’t get a goal, but we
tried to tie it up. They outplayed us, and Wayne wasn’t happy
with our effort overall. We weren’t either. They got off
almost 50 shots. (Bryzgalov) played phenomenal tonight.”
Sullivan opened the scoring with 6:31 remaining in the first
period as Nashville owned a 19-10 shots advantage, but could
only manage the one goal.
After Jovanovski tied the game with 8:56 left in the middle
session, Arnott gave the Predators the lead right back 54 ticks
later on his team-leading 23rd goal of the season.