Erat piles up points as Predators escape Phoenix with shootout victory

Monday, March 12, 2012 at 11:47pm
Staff reports

Martin Erat became the first Nashville player to reach 50 points this season, but the Predators blew a two-goal, third-period lead and settled for a 5-4 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday at Glendale, Ariz.

Andrei Kostitsyn converted on the Predators’ first attempt in the shootout and was the only skater for either side to do so. Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad, the team’s other two trade deadline acquisitions, each had an assist in the contest, which was the first of four straight on the road for Nashville, which has more road victories than all but two Western Conference teams.

Craig Smith, a healthy scratch in the previous two games, made it 4-2, when he scored on a breakaway 2:36 into the third period, but Phoenix rallied and ultimately tied it with 4:59 left in regulation.

Erat scored the game’s first goal with 28.1 seconds to play in the first period then added a pair of second-period assists. That raised his team-leading total to 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) and made this the fifth time in six seasons he has had at least 50 points.

His second assist came on defenseman Francis Bouillon’s first goal of the season. Bouillon snapped a streak of 87 games since his last goal — Nov. 3, 2010, at Phoenix — and gave the Predators a 3-2 lead when he scored with 17 seconds to go in a stretch of four-on-four play late in the second period.

Sergei Kostitsyn added two assists for his second-straight multi-point game, and Mike Fisher regained a share of the team lead in goals with his 21st, which made it 2-1.

Erat has six points (three goals, three assists) in his last five games. Kostitsyn has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last four.