Craig Smith’s goal in the fourth round of a shootout gave Nashville a 3-2 win over the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, lifting the Predators into first place in the Central Division.
Kyle Turris also scored in the shootout for Nashville, while Nick Cousins tallied for Arizona. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s attempt in the fourth round was stopped by Pekka Rinne, leading to Smith’s game-winner.
Nashville forced overtime when defenseman Ryan Ellis ripped a slapper past Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta at 17:24 of the third period for his second goal of the season. Arizona coach Rick Tocchet asked for a review on the basis of goalie interference, but the NHL’s Situation Room in Toronto upheld the call on the ice.
The Coyotes grabbed a 2-1 edge at 13:40 of the third on Brandon Perlini’s 11th goal of the season. Perlini split two defenders at the blue line, skated to the right circle and placed a backhander over Rinne’s blocker.
Raanta made 37 saves, while Rinne stopped 27 of 29 shots in the Predators’ fourth consecutive win.
Nashville controlled play most of the first period as it outshot Arizona 12-6 but couldn’t convert its territorial advantage into a goal.
The Coyotes generated more chances in the second period with a 12-9 advantage in shots on net, but it was the Predators coming away with the first goal, thanks to a terrific stretch pass from Ellis.
Scott Hartnell broke open past the center line, and Ellis hit him with a pass of well over 100 feet. Hartnell fought off defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson at the goalmouth and poked the puck by Raanta at 18:17 for his seventh goal of the season.
That lead didn’t even last the period’s remainder. Arizona mounted sustained pressure with time expiring and converted it into the tying goal. Ekman-Larsson drove the net and chipped home a rebound for his eighth goal at 19:48.
It was Ekman-Larsson’s 96th career marker, allowing him to pass Dave Ellett for second in franchise history among defensemen.
—Field Level Media