Bonk strikes twice, but Preds fall 6-3 to Phoenix
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:13 AM
Radek Bonk scored his first two goals as a Predator, but Phoenix capitalized on multiple Nashville defensive lapses to claim a 6-3 victory in front of 12,155 at the Sommet Center Thursday night. The Predator defeat comes on the heels of a 5-1 loss at Columbus Wednesday night, and the team now sits at 2-2-0 after outscoring their opponent 9-1 in the first two games of the season.
“I think as a team and myself, we have to be a lot better – tonight’s performance was unacceptable,” goaltender Chris Mason said. “We can’t just show up and expect to win. Last night we got outworked and tonight we didn’t show up.”
Both teams played less than 24 hours prior to tonight’s contest, and it showed in their legs in the early goings of the first. The first eight minutes of the game were marred by irresponsible back-checking, leading to a continuous attack-counter attack situation, with each garnering equal scoring chances.
Trotz mixed and matched the forward lines throughout the contest, most notably shuffling Alexander Radulov
onto a line reminiscent of last season with David Legwand
and Martin Erat
. Radulov was the best Predator in the losing cause, creating offense and energy.
“I thought Rad was really good – he created and he was hungry,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He looked like the Alexander Radulov
that we all know. He was dangerous all night. I think he was one of our best guys last night and that carried over to tonight.
|Radek Bonk scores a goal against Phoenix Coyotes goalie Alex Auld in the third period. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Phoenix became the first team this season to beat the Predators with a power play goal, tallying 14:18 into the first – Nashville started the season with 17 consecutive kills. Derek Morris made up for missing a wide-open goal earlier in the period with a one-timer from the blue line that found its way through a screen, off the post, and into the twine.
The desert dogs’ power play continued to attack early in the second, and following a Shane Doan shot that rang off the post in the opening seconds, Fredrik Sjostrom made it 2-0 at 6:55 of the middle frame with Jed Ortmeyer in the box for hooking. Sjostrom beat Mason near side after sneaking in from his half-boards position and receiving a pass from Radim Vrbata.
“We’ve been scrambling a lot in our own zone and we just need to settle it down a little bit and communicate better,” defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. “I think that will solve a lot of problems in that area.”
Nashville got on the board with a five-on-four goal of its own at 9:41 of the second, cutting the Phoenix lead in half. Bonk used some nifty stick work to bat a deflected Jason Arnott pass out of mid-air, then chip a shot into the top corner of the net for his first marker as a Predator. Marek Zidlicky also picked up his third assist of the season on the goal.
Bonk’s goal lit a fire under the home team, and the Predators spent the next six minutes on a relentless attack, outshooting Phoenix 7-1. But, they failed to score despite multiple chances, and the visitors took the wind out of their sails with a goal at 18:12. Steven Reinprecht did the honors, stuffing the puck past Mason’s pad after several hacks at it.
“We were fighting an uphill battle all game,” Trotz said. “We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Whenever we get a little momentum we have a weak shift and give it up. You can’t win by not being sharp mentally, and that cost us the hockey game tonight.”
Rookie Martin Hanzal potted a tough-angle shot past a diving Mason to give the ‘Yotes a three-goal lead just 62 seconds into the third. It was the former first-round pick’s first NHL goal in his career, and it gave his team a commanding 4-1 lead.
Traffic in front of the crease enabled Nashville to cut the lead to 4-2 with exactly five minutes expired in the third. Bonk once again used his size and balance to get the goal – he harnessed a puck bouncing off skates pinball-style in the slot, and fended off a number of red and white jerseys to slide it by Phoenix goalie Alex Auld, who was caught out of position.
Things got chippy in the waning moments of the game, as a fight between Scott Nichol and Daniel Carcillo preceded a blindsided close-line of Tootoo by Craig Weller. The shot, which was in response to Tootoo’s attempt to rally his side, resulted in a five-minute major and game misconduct for intent to injure.
|Jason Arnott fights for the puck with Phoenix's Matt Jones in the first period.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Sjostrom used an impressive individual effort for his second goal of the match, a top-shelf backhander that came while shorthanded at 16:47.
“We have to do a much better job in the defensive zone,” Bonk said. “That is what worked the first two games, and now we are just turning the puck over too much. Every time we got within two goals we made another mistake and we paid for it.”
Bodies taking away Auld’s eyes was the again the recipe for a Preds power play goal, this one came at 17:33 of the third. Hamhuis’ slap shot from point tipped off Vernon Fiddler’s stick and over the Phoenix netminder’s right shoulder for his first goal, and second point of the season. Hamhuis continued is early offensive success tallying points (1g-4a-5 points) in all four games thus far.
“Last year I really focused on defensive play – working on shutting down top lines” the Smithers, B.C., native said. “This year, I am playing with more confidence and skating better, enabling me to jump in the play and contribute more.”
Phoenix iced the game with an empty-net goal by Vrbata with just eight seconds remaining.
Nashville outshot its opponent for the first time this season, and Auld was up to the challenge, stopping 36 of 39 shots. Phoenix tallied its six goals on 24 shots, going 2-5 on the power play. The Preds matched its power play goal total from the first three games, going 2-6.
It is sure to be a lively affair at Nashville’s next game on Saturday, as the Calgary Flames come to the Sommet Center. Some bad blood has developed between the two teams, and the Predators are unbeaten in their past seven home contests against the Flames dating back to Feb. 20, 2003. Tickets are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, visiting the Sommet Center box office, and by logging on to nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com.GAME NOTES
: Nashville scratched Darcy Hordichuk, while Phoenix sat Mathias Tjarnqvist and David Aebischer…Prior to tonight’s loss, the Predators were unbeaten in seven consecutive home contests between the two teams dating back to Jan. 11, 2003…For Phoenix, it was just its second road victory in its past 15 games away from Jobing.com Arena dating back to Feb. 7, 2007… Jason Arnott (2g-3a) and Dan Hamhuis (1g-4a) pace the team in points through four games this season with five apiece. In 2006-07, Arnott (1g-4a), along with Steve Sullivan
(2g-3a) were tied for the point lead with five each.