I t was the perfect storm.
The Nashville Predators had reeled off three wins in a row, moving back into playoff contention.
The Phoenix Coyotes, on the other hand, had reeled in a different manner, dropping 7 straight games.
If there was a trap game for the Predators, their Thursday night matchup against the Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena certainly fit the bill.
It’s safe to say that they never expected what happened.
At 1:46 of the first period, Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal scored to put the Coyotes up 1-0. At 3:42, Radim Vrbata extended the Coyotes lead to 2. Eight seconds later, David Moss pushed the Coyotes lead to 3 and pushed Pekka Rinne out of the net after giving up 3 goals on the first 4 shots he faced.
Unfortunately, for Nashville, Phoenix wasn’t done. With Chris Mason now between the pipes for the Predators, the Phoenix onslaught continued. At 7:08, former Predator Matthew Lombardi beat Mason to make the Coyotes lead 4. Nashville’s Rich Clune went to the box for roughing Phoenix’s Keith Yandle, which resulted in the Coyotes scoring their fifth first period goal just 8:26 into the opening stanza.
“I’ve been here a long time – I haven’t seen anything like that, ” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said.
“We just didn’t show up,” Predators forward Martin Erat said. “It was one of those games. It’s so important for us to get points from every single game and we just didn’t show up.”
“If you give up 5 goals that quickly, it plays on you mentally more than anything,” Trotz said.
The Predators did manage to respond in a way to the team’s early deficit. At 9:03, David Legwand scored to close the lead to 5-1. Just 30 seconds later, Clune scored to make the gap just 3 goals.
“It was a weird game,” Clune said. “Our goalies have stood on their heads this year and they didn’t get any bounces in the first period. We’ve got to bail them out some time, pick guys up around the net.”
Vrbata scored his second goal of the first at 15:57 to put the Predators down 6-2. Merely 32 seconds later, Gabriel Bourque answered for Nashville to make it 6-3.
In the end, the final score was 7-4. Nashville only gave up one goal after their nightmare of a first period and, in fact, managed to outscore Phoenix 4-2 after giving up the first five goals. Unfortunately, there are no positives to being down 5-0 in the first 10 minutes of a game.
“I don’t want to dwell on this,” Trotz said. “I’m embarrassed by it. I can’t remember being down 5 goals so quickly. As a group, we should be embarrassed. We have a lot more pride than that. Now, we’re going to go forward – we have to. We have no choice. This game is done. It was a game that we blew early and we’ll just go forward. It’s all we can do.”
After the game, embarrassment and moving on were the themes of the locker room. Clune admitted that forgetting this loss could be a little harder than others, but it was a necessity since the Predators head to Colorado on Saturday.
“I’ll just forget about it – stay pissed off for an hour or two and then flush it down the toilet,”. Clune said. “We’ve got another game coming on the road.”
“We’re being paid a lot of money,” Clune said. “As a professional athlete, you don’t have the luxury to feel sorry for yourself or quit. We’re being paid a lot of money to do a job.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua