Ellis' two goals propel Predators past Coyotes
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ryan Ellis scored two goals, and Pekka Rinne stopped 25 shots Monday night as the Nashville Predators warmed up after a sluggish first period for a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes in Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville (36-25-11) won for the fourth time in five games and snapped a third-place tie with St. Louis in the Central Division. Arizona (26-37-9) started a five-game road trip by falling to 10-21-4 away from the desert.
Rinne (28-16-8) didn't have to turn away a ton of quality chances against the Coyotes, who entered the game 28th in the NHL in goals. But his pad stop of Jamie McGinn on a point-blank rebound chance just before the end of the first period end kept the game scoreless.
The Predators grabbed the lead five minutes into the second period when Viktor Arvidsson jumped on a giveaway from Christian Dvorak in the slot and chipped a wrister over Mike Smith for his 27th goal of the season.
Ellis took care of the offense from there. He made it 2-0 at 16:44 of the second period with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle off Craig Smith's cross-ice feed, beating Mike Smith high to the glove side. It was Nashville's NHL-high 90th goal of the season in the second period.
Ellis scored his 14th goal of the season at 6:35 of the third period with a slapper from just inside the blue line that squirted through Mike Smith's legs.
Rinne's bid for his 43rd career shutout ended at 16:05 of the third period when Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a power play goal on a wrister from the right faceoff circle off Dvorak's cross-ice dish. It was Ekman-Larsson's 11th goal of the season.
Smith (18-22-8) made 28 saves on 31 shots for Arizona, which dropped its third straight game.
NOTES: Arizona RW Shane Doan (lower-body injury) missed his second straight game after playing in the team's first 70 games. ... Nashville RW Craig Smith, a healthy scratch Saturday night, drew back into the lineup in place of PA Parenteau. Smith hasn't scored a goal in 21 games dating to Jan. 26. ... The Coyotes scratched D Kevin Connauton, C Laurent Dauphin, D Anthony DeAngelo and C Alexander Burmistrov. ... The Predators' other scratches were D Anthony Bitetto, D Brad Hunt, LW Harry Zolnierczyk and LW Vernon Fiddler.