The Nashville Predators fell behind 2-0 in the first period and struggled to find their game against Arizona, as the Coyotes ultimately prevailed, 5-2, at Gila River Arena on Thursday night.
Preds blueliner Dante Fabbro cut the deficit to 2-1 and Nick Bonino scored his third goal in four games, but Nashville never drew even with the Coyotes after Phil Kessel’s first of two tallies on the evening put Arizona up by a pair at 10:34 of the first.
The result sees the Preds finish their three-game road trip with a single victory and their record moves to 4-3-0 on the season.
“Not good,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of his team’s performance. “We were outworked and out competed, out skated, so we got what we deserved. We didn’t put anything into it, we didn’t get anything out of it.”
Arizona scored three times on the power play, including a pair from Kessel, and the Predators left disappointed with their efforts after a solid win in Las Vegas two nights earlier.
Juuse Saros made 27 saves on the night for the Preds to keep things within reach, but Nashville was never able to find the equalizer.
“They’re a good team, obviously, but I think we just came out flat,” Preds Captain Roman Josi said. “We didn’t win any battles. I thought the second was a little better, but still we have to play a lot better to beat a team like that.”
Arizona outshot the Preds by a 15-3 margin in the opening period, and they had a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Christian Dvorak and Kessel after 20 minutes.
Nashville got some life in the second when Kyle Turris found Fabbro streaking into the zone, and the Predators blueliner fired a shot past Darcy Kuemper to get his club on the board.
“I saw a fast break, an opportunity to jump up in the rush, and Turris made a great play to find me in the slot there, coming in late,” Fabbro said of his goal. “I almost lost it, but was able to get a shot off and fortunate for it to go in.”
But before the middle stanza was finished, the Coyotes added their third when Jakob Chychrun converted on the power play, and Kessel added his second of the night in the third to make it 4-1. Bonino gave the Preds life late in regulation when he tipped in a shot in the slot, but Arizona quickly added an empty-netter to ice it.
“It’s tough being on the penalty kill all game and for guys to create energy off that,” Fabbro said. “We have to find a way to stay out of the box and continue our game within our structure.”
The Predators now head back home to begin a three-game set at Bridgestone Arena, and it starts Saturday night against Florida. No doubt they’ll be eager to erase the memory of this one in the desert.
“It wasn’t a great game from us,” Josi said. “They were the better team, and we got what we deserved.”
Filip Forsberg missed Thursday’s game in Arizona due to a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Daniel Carr took Forsberg’s spot in the lineup on the night.
The Predators return to Nashville on Saturday night (at 7 p.m. CT) to host the Florida Panthers to begin a three-game homestand. Anaheim and Minnesota will also make stops in Tennessee next week.