The Phoenix Coyotes battled back from a two-goal deficit against the Nashville Predators in the third period to tie the game 4-4 and force overtime, but would be shut out by NHL-win leader Pekka Rinne in the shootout, losing 5-4 and only capturing one point in the tight Western Conference standings.
Andrei Kostitsyn would shoot first for the Preds, and score the lone goal of the shootout, beating Mike Smith between his legs.
While the Coyotes only captured a single point Monday against the Predators, it is a huge point. With both the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks winning Monday, the pressure was on for the Coyotes to stage a comeback and force the overtime period.
The point becomes even bigger considering the Coyotes were 13 minutes away from leaving the ice with no points and being handed a crushing 4-2 loss. It was not until Oliver Ekman-Larsson ripped a shot from the point, through traffic, at the 7:11 mark of the third period that the Coyotes would gain some life. It was Ekman-Larsson's ninth of the year and made the game 4-3.
Ekman-Larsson's goal came just five minutes after what looked like the dagger in the coffin from Nashville. Craig Smith somehow found his way behind every Coyote on the ice and easily put a backhand deke past a sprawling Mike Smith to give the Predators the 4-2 lead.
The Coyotes would complete the comeback when Raffi Torres managed to poke home a goal line scramble. The goal is Torres' 13th of the year and third in three games. The 30-year-old scrappy forward is playing some of his best hockey when the Coyotes need it most.
Most of the Predators goals could have been prevented and came off sloppy play from the Coyotes in their own end, something they will have to eliminate come playoff time.
Martin Erat would be on the receiving end of a lot of the Coyotes gifts. Erat would score a goal that trickled through the legs of Smith with only 29 seconds left in the first, and set up goals by Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon later in the game.
Rinne and Smith would both stop 31 shots in the contest. With the win Rinne recorded his 39th win of the year, a NHL-high.
The Coyotes start a crucial, four-game road trip Wednesday. They will visit Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Dallas over the next week.