NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 06: Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 and Adrian Aucoin #33 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrate a goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on December 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
A late 4-on-4 goal by Keith Yandle dropped the Nashville Predators to their 4th consecutive loss at Bridgestone Arena, this time by a 3-2 score to the Phoenix Coyotes. Jason LaBarbara stopped 30 of 32 shots for Phoenix, giving regular starter Mike Smith a rest, while Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for Nashville.
Video highlights and reaction after the jump...
First the video (may have to wait until 30-45 minutes post-game before it works):
Observations from this one:
- That first goal for Phoenix was a bit of an odd one, the dump-in got Hillen turned around but the puck stopped dead after hitting the referee in the leg, so Hillen understandably lost track of it. Pekka made the initial save, but the puck leaked free for Pyatt to stuff it home.
- The answer back by the Preds at the end of the first was a beauty, started off with that nifty drop pass by Smith. While Fisher didn't end up getting credit for the goal, you have to like the way he stormed the crease to go after the loose puck.
- Pekka's right-toe save on Vrbata late in the 2nd period was genuine highlight-reel stuff, bailing the team out after Suter's outlet pass got turned over just inside the blueline. Hopefully that's the sort of thing that gets him back in the confident, dominating style of play the Preds need.
- That Phoenix goal to make it 2-1 early in the 3rd was a frustrating one. Just seconds after a great scoring opportunity for the Preds, it took only two Coyotes to completely mystify the Nashville skaters and hold their attention while Ray Whitney set up shop between the circles for an easy goal.
- I've never been one to complain about puck-over-the-glass penalties, and of course I wouldn't start after one gave the Preds a 5-on-3 power play there midway through the third, which led to Weber's tying goal. Them's the breaks, Phoenix.
- Overall, the Preds created a decent number of shots and scoring chances, but LaBarbara was simply on his game. This is why he's continued to find work around the league, he can step in on occasion and hold his own.
- Those offsetting penalties to Kostitsyn and Aucoin late were extremely frustrating. Aucoin instigated the entire thing after SK74 simply took a shot on goal and went for a loose puck (the whistle hadn't blown). If they call Kostitsyn for that ticky-tack slash in response, they could easily have given Aucoin a double minor for the multiple shots he threw to start and escalate the whole thing.
- The story tonight, however, was defensive breakdowns by the Preds leading to those 2nd and 3rd goals for Phoenix. It's just too easy for all eyes to follow the puck carrier right now, allowing other guys to step into shooting position. As Terry Crisp said about 1,000 times on the broadcast, "head on a swivel, boys!"