The Nashville Predators got caught by a few defensive gaffes by the Phoenix Coyotes as they lost 5-2 in their final road game of the regular season, but the bigger loss came in the second period when 30-goal scorer Patric Hornqvist left the game with an "upper body injury". It came on a Preds power play as the Coyotes defense slashed him a couple times across the arms, and he may also have been hit by a Shea Weber slapshot that came in from the point.
Check the right sidebar for video highlights as soon as they become available, and follow after the jump for reaction to tonight's game...
Combined with a 3rd-period collapse by the Columbus Blue Jackets that allowed Detroit to win 4-3 tonight, the Red Wings have pulled into a 5th-place tie with Nashville at 98 points, but Detroit has two games left to play as compared to Nashville's one. Colorado's overtime loss to Edmonton, however, does at least assure the Preds that they will finish now lower than 7th place in the West.
As to the game... let's break out the bullet points!
- Shea Weber got the Preds out to an early lead just 12 seconds in, the 2nd fastest goal in franchise history. Jason Arnott won a faceoff in the Phoenix end, and Weber cleanly beat Ilya Bryzgalov with the blast.
- Having gotten out to that early lead, however, it was distressing to see the Preds allow the tying goal by Phoenix just two minutes later, as a sloppy line change led to a breakaway chance for Lauri Korpikoski. It would have been great to see Pekka Rinne play this more aggressively and come up with the save, but Peks didn't have his best night tonight (25 saves on 29 shots).
- After a relatively even (but wide-open) first period, the Coyotes took charge in the second. They outshot Nashville 11-6, and pulled ahead on a Wojtek Wolski goal where he basically cherry-picked up near the Preds' blueline and took a long pass before beating Francis Bouillon on the attack.
- It was during the second period that Hornqvist got hurt. It's hard to say whether it was the slashes he took, the Weber slapshot, or his tumble to the ice due to an Ed Jovanovski cross-check that caused his injury.
- Steve Sullivan tied the game on an early 3rd-period power play, but defensive issues blew up on them again. Taylor Pyatt was able to get loose in the slot for a clear shot that beat Rinne cleanly.
- From there on in, the Preds tried to create some chances, but Bryzgalov was strong in the Phoenix net. Coming back the other way after a strong threat by Legwand, the Coyotes stormed the net with multiple attackers and Shane Doan tipped home a loose puck for a 4-2 lead. An empty-netter made the final score 5-2.
- Some of the ice time numbers looked a bit odd. Dustin Boyd with just 6:43? Jordin Tootoo got 13:00, despite taking a bad penalty deep in the Phoenix zone.
- Special teams was a minor bright spot. The PK was perfect in three chances, and the power play finally broke through on the Sully goal.
All told, this was a pretty disappointing effort - the goals against seemed as much to do with breakdowns on Nashville's part as good work by Phoenix. Joel Ward had some odd moments giving the puck away in the defensive zone, and let's be honest, once Hornqvist left the game most fans were stressing over how badly he's been hurt.
Geez, did I jinx the guy earlier today, or what?
Perhaps the worst news is that right now 7th place in the West looks a lot more likely, and based on today's standings, that would mean a return matchup with the San Jose Sharks.