NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, December 6th (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (14-9-3) at Nashville Predators (12-10-4), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After blowing a three-goal lead last night, the Phoenix Coyotes were able to recover and squeak out a shootout victory. Dave Tippett hopes his club has something left in the tank tonight for a meeting with the Nashville Predators.
The Coyotes jumped all over the Blackhawks early on Monday, getting first- period goals from Raffi Torres and Radim Vrbata before Keith Yandle lit the lamp just 1:09 into the second period. Chicago, though, scored three goals of its own before the end of the stanza to erase the deficit.
The two teams then skated for another 25 minutes without a goal, leading to the shootout. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Vrbata both tallied for the Coyotes and Mike Smith came up with stops on Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa to help the Coyotes snap a two-game slide.
"We came out with a great first period and then kind of let our guard down a little bit and got away from our game plan," said Smith, who posted 32 saves in his 13th win of the season, one shy of his career high set with the Lightning in 2008-09.
Vrbata's goal was his team-leading 13th of the season and 12 of those have come in his past 17 games. Ray Whitney added the 599th assist of his career as the Coyotes won the opener of a three-game swing and moved into a tie with Dallas for first in the Pacific Division.
Phoenix won despite playing without defenseman Rostislav Klesla due to a lower-body injury suffered on Saturday versus Philadelphia. The blueliner is expected to miss a few more games with the ailment.
Nashville, meanwhile, will find out on Tuesday if it will have forward Jordin Tootoo for this game after he was given a charging major and game misconduct for running into Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller in Saturday's 3-2 setback.
Miller was making his first start since suffering a concussion after he was run into by Boston's Milan Lucic on Nov. 12. He and Tootoo made contact during the second period, causing a pile up of players that saw Miller jump on Tootoo and throw some punches.
Predators head coach Barry Trotz said he knew Tootoo's hit wasn't intentional. He said Tootoo was in a good place to make a power move and couldn't help but run into Miller because there was a player on his back.
"He tried to avoid him, in my estimation, because he launched himself to try to avoid him. That's the only way you can do that," said Trotz.
Craig Smith and David Legwand scored for the Predators, who have lost six of their last eight. Anders Lindback allowed three goals on just 14 Buffalo shots in his third start of the season.
Nashville, which has scored nine power-play goals in its last eight games, snapped a two-game slide to Phoenix with a 3-0 victory in the desert on Nov. 3. That was the second meeting of the season between the clubs following a 5-2 Coyotes win at Nashville on Oct. 13.
Jason LaBarbera has started both games for the Coyotes against the Preds this season, making 51 saves on 55 shots, and could get the call tonight in the back end of consecutive games.
Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, has made 61 saves in starting both encounters for the Preds, while Legwand has posted three assists in the two meetings for a Nashville club that is 10-3-1 with a tie at home versus the Coyotes since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.
12/06 10:51:40 ET