GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Put J-P Dumont on the ice with a couple of youngsters, and suddenly he looks like a kid, too.
Dumont got his first hat trick in 9 1/2 years in the Nashville Predators' 5-2 victory Tuesday night over Phoenix, the Coyotes' second home loss in as many days.
The 32-year-old forward has four career three-goal games, but this was his first since Nov. 12, 2001. After just four goals in his first 45 games this season, Dumont has five in his last two. His resurrection coincides with a decision by coach Barry Trotz to cut back his minutes and put him on the same line as Chris Mueller, playing his ninth game, and Matt Halischuk, playing his second.
"It's a lot of fun," Dumont said. "My first goal tonight was just an unbelievable forecheck by those two guys. I just find the open spot. That's definitely fun hockey for me."
Dumont scored one in the first period and two in the second in an almost-empty Jobing.com Arena, where the crowd was announced at 8,236 but was far smaller.
"I give him a lot of credit. He really went through a dry spell," Trotz said. "... I asked him to do a couple of things differently, so that he's skating better and he's involved and he's part of it and not standing, adjust to the game to what it is now and not what it was 10 years ago."
Patric Hornqvist scored the other two goals for Nashville. Radim Vrbata and Lee Stempniak scored for Phoenix as the Coyotes lost two in a row at home for the first time this season.
|J-P Dumont's hat trick grabbed the headlines -- and for good reason. This was Nashville's first hat trick of the season and Dumont's first hat trick since joining the Preds. Dumont's last hat trick came in the 2006 playoffs with Buffalo against Philadelphia; his last regular season hat trick came back in November 2001.
Combined with his two-goal game at Chicago on Sunday, Dumont already has five goals through the first two legs of the road trip -- just the third player in team history to net consecutive multi-goal games, joining Scott Walker (Dec. 12 & 14, 2002) and Denis Arkhipov (Mar. 17 & 20, 2003).
But as impressive as Dumont's play has been, the production of his line is an important development for the Predators as they get started on their road trip. Matt Halischuk was recalled before Sunday's game at Chicago and was installed on a line with Dumont and rookie center Chris Mueller. Mueller has three assists in the two games -- his first career NHL points -- and Halischuk has two assists in his first two games with the Preds (matching his point total from last season with the New Jersey Devils). Mueller's been a +2 in the two games; Halischuk a +3; and the veteran Dumont has been a +4.
Nashville played both games with five regular forwards sidelined and a sixth -- Martin Erat -- just working his way back in to the lineup from injury. To find a secondary offensive source to support the Legwand-Hornqvist-Wilson line (11 goals in nine games during January), will be key until other regulars can work back into the lineup.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
With the loss, the Coyotes slipped two spots to sixth in the West, with Nashville and Anaheim passing them.
"We're making far too many errors and our whole game is out of sync here the last two," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Part of it is our schedule, it has been a hard go here for a few weeks so you got to go into games like this and you really got to have a strong mental attitude on how you are going to win the game. We have not had a strong enough attitude that way."
The Predators, winners of eight of their last 10, scored twice in a 12-second span, on goals by Dumont and Hornqvist, to go up 2-0 6 1/2 minutes into the game.
Tippett called a timeout and the Coyotes came back strong.
Phoenix cut the lead to 2-1 at 10:31 of the first period when Nashville's Shane O'Brien accidentally knocked the puck into the net. Vrbata got credit for the goal.
The Coyotes tied it 2-2 with 59 seconds left in the period on a power play when Stempniak, while spinning away from the play, was able to backhand the puck into the net past goalie Pekka Rinne. The goal came 38 seconds after the Predators' Alexander Sulzer was sent to the penalty box for hooking.
A Nashville power play had just ended when the Predators regained the lead 3-2, Dumont slipping the puck past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov 11:25 into the second period.
The Predators made it 4-2 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the second period when Halischuk's shot bounced off the crossbar and right to Dumont, who rebounded it in. Nashville didn't even take another shot until Hornqvist's wrister went in with just 5:31 to play.
"We had enough to win. We didn't have to get any shots," Trotz said. "But if they really tried to force something we could come and counter. I think the guys did a real good job there."
NOTES: D Michal Rozsival made his Phoenix debut after being acquired by the Coyotes in the trade that sent Wojtec Wolski to the New York Rangers. ... Coyotes D Ed Jovanovski missed his third straight game with a lower body injury. ... Dumont is two games shy of 800 for his career. .... Dumont never has had a four-goal game. ... The NHL suspended San Jose forward Scott Nichol four games for delivering a hit to the head of Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko in the Sharks' 4-2 victory on Monday.