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Ward leads Predators past Coyotes

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

of it."

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

three.

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.

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