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Preds get a point but give Phoenix two

The Nashville Predators had a three-goal lead after 20 minutes. At the end of the night, however, they only got a point out of it.

In front of just 7,401 at Arena, the Phoenix Coyotes earned a 5-4 victory by way of the shootout after coming back from an early 3-0 deficit.

Goaltender¬†Carter Hutton had a game he’d rather forget. He was strong in the overtime session but the damage was already done by then. He made 21 saves on 25 Phoenix shots and never really looked confident.

The Preds got that all-important first goal early. Matt Hendricks took a home run pass from David Legwand and carried over the blueline. Once he was a few feet into the Phoenix zone, he let a simple wrist shot go. The puck whizzed past Thomas Greiss and into the top corner for the 1-0 lead.

Legwand assisted on the next Nashville goal as well. Toward the end of the opening period, the first ever draft pick of the Predators dished to Patric Hornqvist standing to the side of the net. As is his specialty, Hornqvist tried to jam a puck into the crease and, in doing so, it went off of Eric Nystrom who was positioned in front.

In the waning moments of the first, Legwand tallied his third point of the night when he attempted a cross-crease pass to Mike Fisher but it caromed off of Zbynek Michalek in front.

In the second, Phoenix finally got on the board by way of Jordan Szwarz‘s first NHL goal. Like the Hendricks marker earlier, the 2009 fourth round pick carried over the blueline and wristed a shot on net. Whether it clipped Kevin Klein on its way in or not, it was a shot Hutton would like back.

Midway through the contest, the Coyotes used a defensive breakdown to pull within one. While trying to dig the puck out of the corner, the Predators had all five white jerseys on one side of ice, allowing Derek Morris to camp out at the point all by himself. When the puck came to him, he had all day to get a shot off.

Phoenix thought they had the equalizer moments later when Shane Doan got a puck through Hutton but, as it trickled behind him, Viktor Stalberg cleared it off the line, keeping the Preds up by one.

Early in the final frame, the Preds looked like they were going to avoid disaster when Paul Gaustad notched his second of the season. After an innocent shot by Nick Spaling, Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski chose to handle the puck at the top of the crease instead of clear it. As a result, Gaustad pounced and scored to make it 4-2, Nashville.

Moments later, the home team started building their snowball. Matt Cullen was called for a faceoff violation when he deliberately played the puck with his hand. Phoenix went on the power play and wasted no time cashing in. Doan received a perfect cross-ice pass from Mike Ribeiro and deposited it top shelf to pull within one.

Just 2:01 later, Antoine Vermette took advantage of a bad change by the Predators when he broke in alone and scored to complete the Coyote comeback.

Legwand took a horrendous holding penalty 200 feet from his own net in overtime but the Predators were able to kill it off and take their chances in the shootout. In the fifth round of the gimmick, Mikkel Boedker scored and Legwand didn’t, giving the Coyotes the victory.

These were two points that Phoenix never should have gotten. Nashville had them on the ropes going into the second period leading 3-0. Instead, Phoenix chipped away, got inside Hutton’s head with that first goal and ended up coming back. The Predators will most likely look back on this road trip and thank the hockey god’s for every point they get on it but, let’s be honest, they should have gotten both tonight.

They’ll try to rebound on Saturday when they head to Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Kings.

Puck drops at 9:30pm Central.