After reeling off seven straight wins, the Coyotes have suddenly found themselves on a two game losing streak. The Yotes were shutout Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena 3-0 by the Nashville Predators, ending Nashville’s four game losing streak.
The Coyotes committed seven penalties and the Predators took advantage, scoring two power-play goals. Defenseman Shea Weber scored at 3:36 of the first period, capitalizing on a David Schlemko interference penalty to take an early 1-0 lead.
It was much of the same in the second period, as Predators center Cal O’Reilly made the score 2-0 at 12:48 of the second period on a 5-on-3 advantage. Again the Predators took advantage of Phoenix mistakes as forward Radim Vrbata, defenseman Derek Morris and defenseman Adrian Aucoin all took penalties within a three-minute span. Nashville capitalized and was up 2-0 going into the third period. Nashville came into the game ranked 27th in the league on the power-play, scoring at just over 11% of the time. Over their last two games the Predators have scored three power-play goals (including two Tuesday).
Forward Jordin Tootoo would add an empty-netter to seal the victory. The Coyotes have won just twice in Nashville in their last eleven games. Pekka Rinne earned the shutout victory stopping all 33 shots by the Coyotes to earn his seventh win of the season. Coyotes’ goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 20 of 22 and has lost his last two starts. Bryzgalov has allowed eight goals in the last two games, while he allowed nine goals total over his previous five starts.
The Coyotes look to rebound Wednesday night and start a new winning streak as they take on the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
The positive for the Coyotes is that they have won three straight in Minnesota. Forward Ray Whitney is finally fully healthy and it shows why the Coyotes coveted him in free agency. Whitney leads the Yotes with 16 points (3 goals, 13 assists) in 20 games. He has upgraded the power-play and made everyone around him better with his ability to find the open man on the ice. Also everyone seems to be healthy for the first time all season for the Coyotes.
On the negative side, the Yotes might be over-working their star goaltender. Bryzgalov needs a night off and I believe this is the perfect opportunity to sit him and get backup Jason LaBarbera some playing time. Vrbata has 1 goal in his last five games and needs to get back on the scoresheet if the Coyotes are going to stop this losing skid. Forward Wojtek Wolski is also -3 over his last two games and needs to contribute at both ends of the ice for the Coyotes.
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Written by Robb Patty