Upshall leads Coyotes past Predators 4-2
“The guys are talking about keeping me in a cage,” said Upshall, who on consecutive goals launched himself face first into the glass and tackled a teammate. “I was just so excited. They said they need to give me some space so let’s hope they have to give me a lot more space the rest of the year.”
Matthew Lombardi(notes) had a goal and an assist, Shane Doan(notes) added three assists and Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) made 41 saves for the Coyotes, who moved two points ahead of the Predators for fourth place in the Western Conference.
“This game here for us was a big momentum builder,” Upshall said. “I think the character in this room came out tonight.”
Upshall’s heroics gave Phoenix coach Dave Tippett his 300th career win.
“I’m getting old,” Tippett said with a laugh. “If you love what you do the time flies by. I like the wins more than the losses so if it’s 300 wins that’s 300 good nights I’ve had.”
He made it 3-2 when he scored off a rebound of his own shot from the top left of the crease with 6:38 left and completed his first career hat trick 65 seconds later, taking a long outlet pass from Martin Hanzal(notes) and outracing the defense for the breakaway goal.
“You need your goalie to make those saves to keep it tight,” Ellis said.
After managing only three shots on goal in the first period, the Coyotes took a 1-0 lead at 2:49 of the second period when Lombardi took a back pass from Doan and beat Ellis on a wrist shot from between the circles.
Hornqvist scored his team-leading 20th goal at 13:59, bouncing the puck off Bryzgalov’s right leg from behind the net to tie the game at 1-1.
“It’s a great mark for any young player to get that,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “He deserves any praise he gets because he goes to the hard areas and does everything he can.”
Erat gave the Predators a 2-1 lead on the next shift, taking control of the puck after Ed Jovanovski(notes) mishandled a pass from his defensive partner Zbynek Michalek(notes) to the right of the net and beating Bryzgalov on a wrist shot from the left doorstep.
NOTES: Upshall’s last goal gave him a career-high 17 on the season. … Phoenix ended its season long six-game homestand 3-2-1. … Hornqvist has three goals and an assist in his last four games. … Upshall’s goals were his first since December 31. … The announced attendance was 9,142 though the actual crowd appeared to be a bit smaller due to severe storms in the Phoenix area that delivered torrential rain and wind gusts approaching 50 mph.