Coyotes become victims of late Predators rally

Apr 7, 2016, 8:34 PM | Updated: 9:29 pm
Nashville Predators forward Mike Fisher (12) checks Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson...

Nashville Predators forward Mike Fisher (12) checks Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), of Sweden, in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators had nothing to gain or lose in their final home game of the regular season. They went ahead and turned in an amazing comeback anyway.

Roman Josi scored 20 seconds into overtime, and the Predators pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

“It was a really good comeback, but I thought it was a strong 60 minutes,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette.

Arizona goalie Mike Smith appeared headed toward his fourth shutout this season, making save after save with the Coyotes up 2-0. Then Connor Murphy went to the penalty box for elbowing at 7:13 of the third.

Nashville needed only 13 seconds before captain Shea Weber scored his 20th goal this season from the left circle, and Filip Forsberg tied the franchise-record with his 33rd goal with 18.3 seconds left to force overtime. The puck had barely dropped when Josi scored quickly with a wrister past Smith.

“It’s pretty cool, but right now I’m just really happy about the win,” Forsberg said.

Josi credited James Neal with backing up the Coyotes’ defense and dropping the puck to him.

“I saw their forward didn’t have a lot of speed, so I just decided to go outside and luckily I got it through,” Josi said.

Josi and Forsberg also had an assist apiece, and Ryan Johansen had two goals.

Antoine Vermette and Shane Doan scored for Arizona, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two assists. The Coyotes have lost three straight overall and 15 of their last 17 on the road.

Arizona coach Dave Tippett credited Smith’s 31 saves for putting the Coyotes in position to win.

“We took a bad penalty in the third period with a 2-0 lead, gave up the first one and couldn’t get it killed the last minute,” Tippett said. “We had a couple of chances to get the puck down the ice and didn’t execute very well in the empty net and ends up in the back of our net.”

Nashville already has the first wild-card berth secured in the Western Conference. The Predators finished their home schedule winning two straight and will wrap up the regular season Saturday night at Dallas.

The Coyotes had been outscored 11-4 in losing the first two of their four-game trip to end the season. They appeared ready to end their road skid until the Predators’ furious finish. They went up 1-0 when Vermette tipped in a shot from Zbynek Michalek at 6:26.

Doan gave the Coyotes a 2-0 lead with his team-leading 28th goal this season midway through the second. Brad Richardson found Doan in the left circle with a cross-ice pass, and the 39-year-old Doan scored on a slap shot.

Smith kept making save after save with his best stretch coming late in the second. Forsberg got a pass up the left boards and had a breakaway on Smith only to see the goalie stop both his first shot and Forsberg’s attempt off the rebound. Then Smith got help from the crossbar on a shot by Josi at 14:55.

Weber started the comeback scoring on a snap shot from the left circle at 7:13 of the third. Forsberg tied Jason Arnott’s single-season goal record set in 2008-09 tipping in a shot by Josi, and the Nashville defenseman finished off the win.

Notes: Weber scored his 14th power-play goal and tied the single-season franchise record also held by Andy Delmore (2002-03) and Paul Kariya (2005-06). … The Predators set a single-season franchise record with 695,828 fans this season, filling the arena to 99.2 percent capacity. Nashville also averaged 99.2 percent capacity in 2012-13, a lockout-shortened season. … The Predators also set a record with 35 sellouts this season and averaged 16,971 per game.

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Coyotes become victims of late Predators rally