Johnson, Coyotes blank Nashville, 4-0

GLENDALE, Ariz – Hard to imagine that the sixth game of the “regular” season would have so much riding on it for the Phoenix Coyotes and visiting Nashville Predators.   Between both clubs a total of two wins had been collected through five games.
 
The long layoff and short preparation time heading into opening day still shows.
 
Sloppy play on both sides highlighted the early minutes.   But the Predators were especially guilty when at 3:00 Antoine Vermette netted his third of the season on a wrist shot from the right circle.   The puck was screened by a Nashville defenseman and Predators goalie Pekka Rinne had no chance as the Coyotes jumped to the early 1-0 lead.
 
The goal was more the result of a Predators let down at the blue liune than a strong offensive move by the Coyotes.
 
In his first start in goal for Phoenix, Chad Johnson played well but faced only three shots.
 
Rinne recovered well enough from the early goal and stopped five shots in the first.
 
To Nashville’s credit, their penalty killing unit played well in the second and kept some solid discipline in the box.
 
More lax defensive play from the Predators resulted in a 2-0 Phoenix lead.   Lauri Koprikoski picked up a long rebound and beat Rinne to his glove side.   For Koprikoski it was his third of the season and 50th of his career.
 
Nashville had been unable to put a body on any of the Coyotes crowding the net area and they paid the price.
 
Johnson improved as the second period progressed and had stopped all 13 shots he faced through 40 minutes.   Rinne was 11 of 13 shots faced through the middle frame.
 
In the third, Nashville picked up the intensity early on and held the advantage in territorial play6.   But the Predators lost the momentum with a too many men on the ice penalty .
 
Coming out of the penalty kill Nashville was unable to keep control of the puck and Nick Johnson scored his first of the season at 11:34 of the third.
 
From there, the Nashville penalty killing lost discipline and the Coyotes made it 4-0 on goal from Keith Yandle, his first of the season at 15:02.
 
Whatever fight was left in the Predators evaporated and the Coyotes ensured that Johnson got his shutout.   Johnson was named first star of the game with 22 saves on the night.   Nick Johnson and Yandle were also named stars of the game.
 
Phoenix improved to 2-4-0 on the season while the Predators dropped to 1-2-3.
 
Contact Lou.Lafrado@prohockeynews.com
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