Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Coyotes recap: mired in mediocrity

Frederick Breedon

The Nashville Predators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 on Thursday night.

22-25-12

That is the Phoenix Coyotes' record since November 16.

0-4-2

That is the Coyotes' record in the last half dozen games with the season on the line. Six loses in a row. It's hard to make the playoffs without winning any games.

In a must-win game with a playoff spot on the line, the Coyotes simply forgot how to hockey. Long shot-less stretches, poor power play opportunities and lack of strong offensive push doomed the Coyotes to a 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators, a team not in playoff contention.

A familiar problem plagued the Coyotes on Thursday night - lack of scoring. Phoenix hasn't scored more than two goals in six of the last seven games; they couldn't even get one on Thursday.

Now, the team that once controlled its own fate, then lost control and then re-gained it has once again put its playoff hopes in the hands of a Stars/Blues Friday night game in Texas. If the Stars win on Friday, Phoenix's playoff aspirations will end with two games remaining.

If the Coyotes do not make the playoffs, it will not be the fault of their back-up goaltender. Thomas Greiss played solid, stopping 21-of-23 shots, but his offense could not match his effort.

The first period was a battle of wills for both the players on the ice and the fans watching it. Little first period action gave way to non-existent second period action for the Desert Dogs.

Some hockey player who also used to coach some hockey team once said, "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Phoenix was determined to test that theory out, going more than 17 minutes without a shot from late in the first period to late in the second.

In the meantime, Nashville capitalized on a power play opportunity to open the scoring on Craig Smith's 21st of the season. Smith patiently waited in the left faceoff circle for Michael Stone to go down before shooting the puck off Chris Summers' shoulder and into the net.

Nashville extended it's lead after Patric Hornqvist scooped up his own rebound and smacked it past Greiss for his 21st goal of the season. The final 10:39 were just a formality.

In a last ditch effort, the Coyotes pulled the goalie with just over two minutes to play. They could not muster even a single shot on goal with the extra skater.

The Coyotes need the Dallas Stars to lose in order to make the final game of the season relevant.

Paw Prints

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Pekka Rinne - Stopped all 29 shots for his second shutout of the season.

2. Craig Smith - Game-winning goal.

3. Patric Hornqvist - Put the game away late with his 21st of the season.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes head home for the final two games of the season. They play San Jose on Saturday night at 6 p.m. and Dallas on Sunday night, also at 6 p.m.

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