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)
Coyotes start quick and end strong in a 3-2 road win in Nashville. A late goal by Keith Yandle and 30 saves from Jason LaBarbera lifts the Desert Dogs to their second victory in two days.
The Phoenix Coyotes (15-9-3) took the ice in Nashville Tuesday less than 24-hours after their thrilling shootout win in Chicago and the team was looking to use the second of back-to-back games to ignite a two-game win streak. Their opponent, the Nashville Predators (12-11-4), had only won two of their last seven games coming into the contest.
The Coyotes would waste no time Tuesday lighting the lamp when just nine seconds into the game Taylor Pyatt put in a rebound off a quick Lauri Korpikoski shot. The early momentum boost is exactly what the Coyotes needed coming into the game with such little rest. The Coyotes would remain up until the tail end of the first period where a controversial Jack Hillen goal would have to be reviewed before being confirmed by officials. The teams would go into the first intermission tied 1-1.
Phoenix would go ahead 2-1 early in the third when Radim Vrbata would find a wide open Ray Whitney sitting alone in front of the net and Whitney would wrist the puck past helpless Predator goalkeeper Pekka Rine. The pair of Whitney and Vrbata have proved to be a lethal combination this year for the Coyotes, combining for 23 goals and 25 assist on the season.
After Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derrick Morris got called for holding and delay of game just six seconds apart, Nashville defenseman Shea Weber would rocket in a puck from the point past LaBarbera on the two-man advantage. Weber's goal would knot the teams at two with just over seven minutes left in the game.
There would not be any extra time played Tuesday night; Keith Yandle made sure of this. Yandle, playing in his 200th consecutive game for the Coyotes, put in the game winner on a beautiful pass from Shane Doan with less than two minutes remaining on the clock. The Predators would not be able to muster any quality chances with the remaining time and the Coyotes left the ice with their second win in two days.
Jason LaBarbera got the start against the Predators Tuesday and it would be his third time seeing this Nashville team. Coach Dave Tippett felt confident in his backup goaltender, seeing as he had stopped 51 of 55 shots against Nashville this year and played very well in relief of Mike Smith Saturday against Philadelphia. Tuesday night LaBarbera would continue his stellar play. The second and third period were filled with highlight reel saves and one diving save led to the Yotes second goal. LaBarbera had 30 saves in the win.
The power play only had one chance against the Predators, but it doesn't excuse the fact that it has been downright terrible for the Coyotes lately. If the team want to be a real contender down the road they will have to improve this unit. Coming into the game Phoenix had only converted one power play in their last 37 tries, putting them second to last in the NHL.
The Coyotes will be in Detroit Thursday to take on a Detroit Red Wings team that will be hungry for a win after dropping a game to St. Louis. The puck drops at 5:30 Arizona time, and will be available on Fox Sports Arizona.
Roster move: The Coyotes have assigned forward Patrick O'Sullivan to the Portland Pirates, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Coyotes.The 5-foot-11, 189 pound O’Sullivan has appeared in 17 games with Phoenix this season and registered two goals and one assist. O'Sullivan signed a one year deal with the team in the offseason.