Games between the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes are typically low-scoring and a defensive grind. That wasn’t the case on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Before the Predators even knew what happened to them, they were down 5-0 to the Coyotes in the first period. Pekka Rinne had allowed three goals on four shots before being pulled, and backup goaltender Chris Mason came in and allowed two more goals shortly thereafter.
When all was said and done, the Predators found themselves on the wrong end of a 7-4 game.
“I’ve been here a long time. I haven’t seen anything like that,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.
Nashville was down by five goals just 8:26 into the game. Nearly everything the Coyotes were throwing on net was finding a way to go in. Phoenix scored five goals on just seven shots to start the first period. The Predators were able to find their game after that, and out-scored the Coyotes 4-2 for the remainder of the game. However, they simply dug too deep of a hole.
“You can’t go down 5-0 in the first five or six minutes. I don’t care who you are, you’re not going to come back from that. We have to be better and ready to start at our place. We knew they had a back-to-back, and we’ve got to do that to them. They can’t come in here and do that to us in our building,” said Predators defenseman Jon Blum.
“I don’t want to dwell on this. I’m embarrassed by it. I can’t remember being down five goals so quickly,” Trotz said. “As a group, we should be embarrassed. We have a lot more pride than that. And we’re going to go forward. We have to. We have no choice.”
Nashville played well after falling down 5-0. The Predators out-shot the Coyotes by a 38-29 margin for the game and had a lot of chances to draw closer to the Coyotes. The Predators didn’t lay down and quit after falling behind, but it’s hard to come back from that big of a deficit.
“We know where we sit in the playoffs and what kind of character we have in this room. We can’t sit back and get embarrassed in our place. The positive is that we came back and got those goals, but we still fell short,” Blum said.
Games like this one are rare in the NHL and rarer still between the Coyotes and Predators. It’s something that can be used as a learning experience for the Predators.
“We had three good games at home on our homestand, and we can’t take that fourth one off. We had a chance to separate ourselves from these guys and inch closer into that playoff spot, and we didn’t do that tonight,” Blum said.
Now, the Predators will embark on a two-game road trip to Colorado and Chicago before returning to Bridgestone Arena next Tuesday night. The Predators have struggled on the road, having only won two of their past 12 road games. Nashville is going to have to reverse that trend if they hope to make the playoffs this season.
“We’ve got to realize we’re on the road, and we’ve got to keep it simple,” Blum said. “You don’t have to do anything flashy. Just play a hardworking, solid game. That’s what this team is built on. We’ve got to be better on the road to make the playoffs, so we’re looking forward to going back in these two games and redeeming ourselves from that last road trip. We’ve got two tough games coming up on the road now, and we’ve just got to go in there and give it our all. There’s only 14 games left now so we’ve got to make every game our best game. We can’t have nights like this.”