Coyotes produce better effort but fall in shootout to Nashville
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett wanted to see a better effort across the board from his team on Tuesday in Nashville. He got that effort; he just didn't get the win.
Ryan Ellis scored the decisive goal in a shootout to give the Predators a 4-3 victory at Bridgestone Arena and spoil a strong game from Arizona goalie Devan Dubnyk, who played in place of struggling starter Mike Smith for the second time in five games this season.
Nashville, Chicago and Washington are the only three NHL teams that have not lost in regulation.
"We were looking for a response from our team and we certainly got it," said Tippett, whose team earned a key road point. "I thought Dubnyk played well in goal for us but our whole team competed in the areas that we wanted to a lot better."
Former Coyote Mike Ribeiro had a first-period goal and an assist on the tying goal midway through the third period that came off a turnover from Coyotes wing Rob Klinkhammer on a clearing pass that should have gone up the boards instead of into the middle of the ice. Ellis and James Neal also scored in regulation for Nashville.
Klinkhammer, Keith Yandle and Martin Erat scored for Arizona, which has lost two straight.
Klinkhammer scored the game's first goal at 3:21 of the opening period after Ribeiro got caught deep while one of his defensemen pinched. Wing David Moss carried the puck into the Nashville zone on a 2-on-1 before sending a pass across to Klinkhammer for a tap-in and his second goal of the season.
Ribeiro tied the game at 12:05 of the first period off a rare 4-on-1 rush on an assist from Ellis. Ribeiro was trying to make a pass, but the puck slipped by Dubnyk. The Predators outnumbered the Coyotes on the rush after Antoine Vermette's shot sailed wide at the other end and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson lost an edge trying to get back.
"I was actually trying to pass and I kind of fanned on it," Ribeiro said.
"At the beginning, it was a 2-on-1 for me and I was going to try and pass to James and when I got inside the blue line, I saw two righties coming, so it was a 4-on-1. I was lucky on the goal, but we will take any goal."
In the offseason, the Coyotes bought out the remaining three years of the four-year, $22 million deal Ribeiro signed prior to the start of last season, and he signed a one-year contract with the Predators for just over $1 million.
Citing behavioral issues, Arizona general manager Don Maloney was blunt in his criticism when asked about losing a No. 1 center just one season after signing him.
"Let's be honest. We were out a top-line center for the last 40 games anyway," Maloney said. "We all saw it."
In an interview with FOX Sports Arizona's Todd Walsh on Tuesday, Ribeiro said his once troubled marriage is back in a good place and that has helped him return to form on the ice. He also said he remains close with Tippett, for whom he also played in Dallas.
"Dave was always supportive of me. Even when they went to get me, I thought it was more Dave than Maloney," he said. "I don't think Maloney was ever a big fan. I think Dave was. We have a great friendship and he was supportive afterwards and trying to help me."
Martin Erat's reunion with his former team was a bit less drama-filled, but the former Predator still scored at 7:42 of the third period to rally the Coyotes from a 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead. But Ribeiro fed Neal just 21 seconds later for the equalizer and the teams went scoreless through an eventful and chance-filled overtime.
Dubnyk made 23 saves in regulation and overtime and has earned three of the Coyotes' five points this season. Smith has allowed 16 goals in his three games. Tippett has insisted he does not have a goalie controversy, but he did not name a starter for Thursday's game in Minnesota and there is no questioning the results thus far in front of the two goalies, albeit in a small sample size.
"I think our group has played better (in front of Dubnyk)," Tippett said.
Dubnyk had a brief stint in Nashville last season after the Predators acquired him in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. With Nashville, Dubnyk had a record of 0-1-1, allowing nine goals against in the two games played. Nashville later traded him to the Montreal Canadiens. He signed as a free agent with the Coyotes in the offseason.
"I want to give them that feeling that I am going to be solid for them back there," Dubnyk said. "The more games I am able to play, then obviously they will get a feel for me. It makes it easier for me when the guys play like that."
NOTES: Klinkhammer's goal was the first time Arizona scored first in a game this season. ... Yandle played his 500th career NHL game. ... Ribeiro has points in four consecutive games.