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Preds survive late Coyotes surge, win in shootout…

NSH PHX recap photo (Mariani)

It happens a few times a season and every single time it gives you a sick feeling in your stomach. The Nashville Predators look to be in control of a game and then, the next thing you know, they’re not playing the entire 60 minutes and the opponent crawls back in it.

Thankfully for Nashville, they were still able to pull off the victory on Monday night.

In front of 11,518 at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona, the Preds nearly squandered a 4-2 lead but survived and won 5-4 in the shootout.

An uneventful first period provided some last minute dramatics as Martin Erat bagged his 17th of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn gained the blueline with numbers and dropped it to Erat. The Trebic, Czech Republic native wristed a shot past Mike Smith for the goal.

Phoenix tied things up on the other side of the first intermission, however. Veteran forward Daymond Langkow deflected an Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot from the point that found it’s way past a surprised Rinne.

Late in the frame, Erat would find the scoresheet once again, this time by way of an assist on Mike Fisher‘s 21st of the year. Sergei Kostitsyn took the initial shot, one that Smith stopped, but the rebound came right to a crashing Fisher who put the Preds up by one.

Moments later, the Coyotes re-tied the game on a goal by Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle but Nashville returned serve. And another Predators goal means another Erat point. While skating four-on-four, Erat set up defenseman Francis Bouillon for a shot from the high slot and while his first shot was turned aside, “Cube” collected the rebound and buried it for his first of the season.

In the third period, Craig Smith had so much time on a breakaway that he could have had a sandwich while waiting for the Coyotes defense to catch up with him. With the Phoenix attack over committing in the Preds zone, Smith broke up ice and Paul Gaustad hit him with a perfect up-the-gut pass. Smith fake-pumped the leg in order to get the Coyotes netminder to bite, which he did, and then went backhand for the two goal lead.

Ekman-Larsson gave his team some life with 12:49 remaining in regulation when he fired a shot through traffic that got past Rinne. Then, when Langkow potted his second of the night with just a tick less than 5:00 remaining, the Coyotes had, somehow, tied a contest in which the Predators seemed in complete control just minutes earlier.

Finally, in the shootout, Nashville managed to secure the two points.

The Predators will try and to put together a full 60 minute effort when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.

Puck drops at 9:30pm Central.

PHOTO CREDIT: Marc Mariani // Tennessee Titans (via Twitter)