NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Lawson Crouse scored his second goal at 4:20 of the third period, and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators 4-2 on Monday night to snap an 18-game road skid.
Crouse nearly had a hat trick but missed an empty net wide with 1:11 left. Christian Fischer didn’t miss with 52.9 remaining.
Nick Schmaltz also scored a goal as the Coyotes won for the first time on the road since a 4-0 win at Carolina on Nov. 23, a span that saw them go 0-13-5 until capping this three-game road swing that started with back-to-back overtime losses.
Matias Maccelli, J.J. Moser and Clayton Keller each had two assists.
Goalie Karel Vejmelka made 29 saves for his first win against the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2015.
”It’s more special than the other games,” Vejmelka said. ”But I don’t care who plays against us. I just want to give us a chance to win. We had big points tonight.”
Arizona now is 3-0-3 without a regulation loss over the past six games, and coach Andre Tourigny said he thinks that says something about the character of a team trailing all but two teams in the Western Conference.
”We’re obviously not the level of a Tampa Bay or something like that,” Tourigny said. ”But character wise, you could see even in the second period, when the wind was against us, we still battled and worked really hard. So, proud of the boys.”
Captain Roman Josi and Colton Sissons scored a goal apiece as Nashville started a three-game home stand with its second loss in three games since the All-Star Game break. Nashville slipped five points back of Calgary for the West’s second wild-card slot.
”It’s definitely a frustrating loss,” Josi said.
The Coyotes improved to 7-20-6 on the road despite being outshot 10-2 in the second. Crouse not only tied it up at 2 with Arizona’s only power play of the game, it was the Coyotes’ first shot of the period. Keller hit off the crossbar with 36.4 seconds left for their other shot.
Then Arizona opened the third taking five of the first seven shots, including Crouse’s game-winner. Maccelli passed a backhander from near the boards to Crouse for his 19th goal.
”(I) just tried to get open in that soft spot, and (Maccelli) put it right on my tape,” Crouse said. ”I think it squeaked in somehow, so obviously a good feeling.”
The Predators had a fifth and final power play when Crouse put the puck over the glass with 4:36 remaining. Coach John Hynes took his timeout with 51 seconds left on the man advantage, not that it helped as Nashville finished 1-of-5 on the power play.
Nashville honored P.K. Subban before the game as the three-time All-Star defenseman handled the ceremonial puck drop.
Subban announced his retirement in September after 13 NHL seasons. The 2013 Norris Trophy winner helped Nashville reach the 2017 Stanley Cup Final and played all 82 games in winning the 2018 Presidents’ Trophy.
When Predators forward Nino Niederreiter turned it over, Schmaltz quickly took advantage with his 14th goal this season and third in as many games. He scored on a one-timer from the left circle off a pass from Keller for a 1-0 lead with 2:45 left in the first period. He now has seven points in three games.
Nashville played without second-leading scorer Filip Forsberg who went down in the first period of a 2-1 overtime win in Philadelphia on Saturday. He’s listed as day to day with an upper-body injury after being checked into the boards.
Hynes said earlier Monday the injury might not be as serious as it first appeared. Philip Tomasino was called up from AHL Milwaukee and replaced Forsberg on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Mikael Granlund.
Arizona played its second game with defenseman Jakob Chychrun a healthy scratch for ”trade related reasons.”
The Coyotes return home to host Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.
The Predators host Boston on Thursday night.
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