Ex-Coyote Ribeiro helps Nashville beat Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was clear to Mike Ribeiro in his return to Arizona what separates the slumping Coyotes from his new team, the Nashville Predators.
"Goaltending has to be your best player, night in and night out," Ribeiro said. "And we have a chance to have one that can help us every night."
Pekka Rinne stopped 31 shots for his NHL-best 19th win, and Ribeiro had an assist as the Predators used five goal scorers to beat slumping Arizona 5-1 Thursday night in the Coyotes' eighth straight home loss.
James Neal had a goal and an assist, and Mike Fisher, Ryan Ellis, Calle Jarnkrok and Olli Jokinen also scored in the Predators' second consecutive win.
Mike Smith allowed five goals on 38 shots as Arizona extended its longest home skid since the team moved from Winnipeg in 1996.
Antoine Vermette's goal early in the first period was the only blemish for Rinne, who improved to 19-5-1.
Smith, meanwhile, dropped to 5-14-2 as the Coyotes' nightmare season showed no sign of turning around. Arizona has been outscored 19-5 in its four-game skid. The Coyotes have dropped nine of 11 overall.
"Frustrated, disappointed," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said when asked about his team's mindset. "I think there's a lot of guys in there that care. They want to do better and we're not finding the results we want.
"So the frustration continues to build. But until we turn that frustration into mental resolve and get the job done, more frustration will pile up."
Fans directed their frustration at Ribeiro -- even if he claimed there weren't enough of them to hear it.
Ribeiro's team-best 17th assist came when Ellis redirected Neal's shot into an open net with 1:30 left in the first period to make it 3-1.
"Once again, not a lot of fans in the building," Ribeiro said. "They didn't have a chance to boo me. Or they might have, but I didn't hear them."
Ribeiro was booed every time he touched the puck early. The Coyotes bought out the final three years of his contract last summer, with general manager Don Maloney citing "behavioral issues" along with Ribeiro's dismal 47-point season as the reason.
Ribeiro is more than halfway to that total with 25 points for Nashville.
"They said it was a mistake to get me," Ribeiro said. "I think the mistake was to let me go."
The Coyotes had several scoring chances thwarted by Rinne in the second period. After a sloppy start to the third, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette called his timeout.
His team quickly responded.
Jarnkrok knocked in a rebound at 2:43, then Jokinen scored his second goal of the season when the puck went off his skate and through Smith less than 3 minutes later to make it 5-1.
The Coyotes got wing David Moss back after a 22-game absence due to injury, and he started on a line with Martin Erat and Martin Hanzal. And with Shea Weber serving a holding penalty, Arizona got an early goal. Vermette's one-timer from the slot on a feed from Mikkel Boedker made it 1-0 at 4:11.
It was the first power-play goal allowed by Nashville in five games. But the Arizona lead didn't last long.
With Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the box for holding and Michael Stone without his broken stick, Fisher got his first of the season on a redirect at 6:57.
The Predators controlled the game from there.
"It's not easy for them right now," Ribeiro said of the Coyotes. "I wish (Tippett) the best. I hope he stays behind the bench.
"It's hard to have an organization if it's not steady on top -- completely on top from ownership to GM."
NOTES: Nashville's David Poile earned his 1,170th win as a GM, tying former Boston boss Harry Sinden for second in NHL history. ... Predators C Derek Roy (upper body) returned after a five-game absence. ... Predators C Paul Gaustad (upper body) didn't dress. ... The crowd of 10,194 was the smallest of the season for Arizona.