Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for the Arizona Coyotes and they have no one to blame but themselves.
Too many turnovers, too many defense breakdowns, too few saves, little possession -- rinse lather repeat. Even scoring first for the first time in six games could not propel the Coyotes back into the win column, as they fell to the Nashville Predators 5-1 for their eighth consecutive home loss.
The loss keeps the Coyotes near the bottom of the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings with a record of 10-16-3. The buzz surrounding the team is waning fast and attendance is following suit. Yes, the Arizona Cardinals were playing on Thursday Night Football, but just 10,194 fans made their way to Gila River Arena on Thursday night.
"There's a few parts of the game where we have good stretches. We have been talking about when we win our shift, the next line goes out and there's the same thing," Antoine Vermette said. "When you allow five goals there's too many breakdowns"
While marred in this slump, there is a dark cloud to every silver lining. The Coyotes found the back of the net 4:11 into the game on Vermette's seventh goal of the season. Nashville proceeded to pot three goals in the next 14+ minutes and sunk any hopes Arizona had of clawing out of their home funk.
"It's just one of those games where you let it slip away," Keith Yandle said. "Obviously we got up on a lead. I don't know if we got too comfortable or thought we were going to try to win it 1-0. It's one of those things, when you're trying to get out of a slump like this, when you do get a lead, you fight for the next one, and we weren't able to get that."
When things go bad, they go bad in a hurry.
A highly-offensive first period opened with Vermette's power play goal. However, the Coyotes could not hold on long enough to even relish the moment. In fact, they would not score again.
Mike Fisher netted his first goal of the season in his seventh game back from rupturing his Achilles tendon. The goal broke Nashville's nine-game power play goalless drought. Seconds after another man advantage expired, James Neal drove hard to the net and scored his 11th of the season off a puck that ricocheted off his leg and into the net.
Before the clock struck triple-zeros, Ryan Ellis got by Yandle in the crease to tap in his third of the season off a beautiful pass by Neal. Mike Ribeiro earned the secondary assist on Ellis' goal in his jeer-filled return to the Valley.
"Obviously when you get down in a game you start chasing things. I thought we had a good push there when we were down 3-1 for a bit. I think it is important for us to stick to our game regardless of what is going on and continue to push forward," Sam Gagner said.
An uneventful second period gave way to a quick-scoring Predators team in the third period. Calle Jarnkrok tipped the puck over the goal line as players piled up in the crease to extend Nashville's lead to three. Former Coyote Olli Jokinen added to the massacre with his second goal of the season, which went off his skate and between Mike Smith's legs.
"There are areas that we have to improve and we'll keep pondering away at those, and we need our goaltending to try to improve to clean up some of the mistakes we are making," coach Dave Tippett said.
Smith stopped 33-of-38 shots as he was unable to climb out of his own personal slump, although the defense in front did him no favors.
1. James Neal - Goal and assist in a strong offensive night for the former Star and Penguin.
2. Mike Fisher - Goal and assist, plus he's still married to Carrie Underwood.
3. Pekka Rinne - Stopped all but one of 32 shots en route to his 19th win of the season.
The Coyotes continue their homestand on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m.