Smith's shootout goal leads Predators over Coyotes 3-2
By JIM DIAMOND
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Despite missing the first three months of the season, Ryan Ellis looks to be in top form already for the Predators.
Ellis had a goal and an assist in regulation, and Craig Smith scored the deciding goal in the shootout to give Nashville a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Brandon Perlini scored for Arizona, which has lost five straight.
In the fourth round of the shootout, Smith was able to beat Arizona's Antti Raanta with a quick wrist shot low to the glove side.
With time winding down in the third, Parlini split a pair of Predators before beating Nashville's Pekka Rinne with a backhander high to the glove side in the top corner. Rinne finished with 27 saves in regulation and overtime and denied three of four Arizona shootout attempts.
Ellis tied it at 2 with 2:36 remaining in the third with a one-timer from the high slot that beat Raanta on the glove side off of a nice pass from Josi.
"I felt me and Josi had some good O-zone time," Ellis said. "We were moving the puck a lot. We just weren't getting our shots through, not getting a bounce here or there. I thought the whole game we created a lot of stuff up ice, so it was nice, obviously at a big time in the game."
Josi is happy to have Ellis back.
"He's got a great slap shot and he's scored so many goals from that one-time position last year," Josi said, "and I'm sure he's going to do the same thing this year."
Offseason knee surgery kept Ellis out of the lineup until the beginning of January. Thursday was Ellis' sixth game of the season. He has four points in those games.
"It's great to have him back," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "I've been talking about how good he's been defensively, but he's great offensively, too, and he has been for us. He's a big part of our offense. It's nice to see him contribute the way he did tonight."
Arizona challenged the goal, questioning whether Nashville's Nick Bonino interfered with Raanta. After a short review, the goal was allowed to stand.
"I thought the stick hit (Raanta) before the goal, so I guess they didn't think it was enough to overturn," Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. "They are good refs. They could have gone either way."
Raanta made 37 saves in regulation and overtime, but allowed two goals in the shootout.
Nashville entered the game with the league's second-best home power play at 31.6 percent, but was 0-3 in the game with the man advantage.
"It helps a lot when the D starts taking the sticks away so you can pretty much focus on the puck," Raanta said. "You don't need to focus if there is a redirect or something like that. Our PK is one of the best things we have been doing the whole year."
Hartnell scored the game's first goal with 1:43 remaining in the second period.
After taking a stretch pass from Ellis at the Arizona blue line, Hartnell drove in on the right side with Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on his hip. Harnell shielded the puck from Hjalmarsson and moved toward the low slot, where he slid the puck by Raanta along the ice on the glove side.
Arizona tied it at 1 with 11.3 remaining in the second on Ekman-Larsson's eighth goal of the season.
From the goal line to the left of the Nashville net, Derek Stepan threw the puck toward the low slot, where Richard Panik spun and sent a backhand shot on goal. Rinne kicked that shot away, but Ekman-Larsson skated in and flipped the rebound by Rinne.
Panik had a pair of assists in the game.
NOTES: Ekman-Larsson has a three-game point-scoring streak. ... The Coyotes are 3-17-5 when their opponent scored first this season. ... Nashville C Ryan Johansen played, but did not play the third period of Tuesday's victory over the Vegas Golden Knights after being hit by William Carrier late in the second period. The Predators are 10-3-3 against the Pacific Division this season.
Coyotes: at St. Louis on Saturday.
Predators: host Florida on Saturday.
Updated January 19, 2018