Coyote Captain Shane Doan scored the 299th goal of his career into an empty net with under a minute remaining as the boys in white ruined the Predators opening night in front of 17,113 fans in Smashville.
Other Yotes on the board include Schlemko, Korpikoski, Whitney all in the first period to take a 3-0 lead into the lockerroom. Boedker wanted his name in lights so he put in a nifty goal right in front of Pekka Rinna to make it 4-0 to start the second period.
Ryan Suter gave the building some life when he scored shorthanded after picking off a bad Coyote pass and put it past Jason LaBarbera who stopped 23 out of 25 shots.
Jason LaBarbera’s mask for 2011-12 honors Pat Tillman and the troops. Photo by David Arrigo
Barbs stood strong and made some incredible saves against a desperate Nashville team that was much better in the second and third period. Jack Adams candidate coach Barry Trotz made some adjustments and it was obvious as Nashville played a much tighter second period and put some pressure on the Coyote defense still missing Michal Rozsival. Paul Bissonnette was bumped into Rinna and took a two minute running into the goalie penalty that was effectively killed off thanks to some great face off wins by Boyd Gordon and Marty Hanzal.
Nashville cut the lead in half thanks to a Colin Wilson slapshot at the 9:08 mark. The building was brought out of its dormat phase when Nashville went on the power play due to a Martin Hanzal holding the stick penalty at 14:37. Not even a Shea Weber slapshot could get past a charging Lauri Korpikoski and the boys killed it off again.
Trotz pulled the goalie with under two minutes left and put some pressure on Jason until Doan got the puck pushed to him against the board on the red line and gently pushed it toward the goal. Not so much of a shot as a guarantee he wasn’t going to ice the puck, but it slid into the back of the net, setting up a chance for Shane to get his 300th this Saturday in the Coyote home opener.
Keith was missing for most of the third period after taking a stick to the mouth by Jordan Tootoo that was an uncalled high stick. This allowed the smooth skating Oliver Ekman-Larson to log the second most minutes for defensemen, surpassed only by Rusty Klesla (22:38 to 21:45). Chris Summers, who was called up for the injured Michal Rozsival, did not dress for the game.
During a first period intermission interview, Ray Whitney called his slap shot sneaky and that “Nobody expects the little guy to shoot.” Ray put the puck on the net three times to go along with his no look passing. Ray started the game off by creeping during a Fox Sports Arizona interview of goalie coach Sean Burke, talking about getting to know Mike Smith. Fox Sports ran a quote from Jason in which he praised the signing of Smitty “There are only two guys on the team who know what it is like out there. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.”
The power play again showed what happens when you have speedy, gritty forwards up front. Korpi is quick to the puck, steps up to face a Shea Weber slapper, and has that active stick in the passing lane. Boyd Gordon showed why he was picked up by winning the face offs and allowing the Coyotes to dump the puck and force Nashville to come up the entire ice, burning precious seconds. This was a classic Coyote game. Get the lead, pressure and possession hockey. The Coyotes finished the road trip 1-1-1 for 3 points in the Pacific Division. See you Saturday night.