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Vokoun stymies Coyotes as Predators pick up first win

Oct 15, 2006 - 3:01 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Tomas Vokoun finally resembled an NHL goaltender.

Vokoun stopped 29 shots and Jason Arnott recorded three assists to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-1 triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes.

It was the first victory this season for the Predators, who yielded a total of 17 goals in losing their first three contests.

"I was happy about getting the monkey off of our back and getting our first win," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I think it helps our confidence. Jason Arnott was a real force for us tonight. I thought Tomas played really well. He didn't see a lot of shots early but made some good stops down the stretch. It looks like he is back."

"We have to turn this thing around quickly, and today was the first step," Vokoun added. "We played better from the start tonight. It was a lot better effort than we had in the last few games."

An All-Star in 2004 and one of the top netminders in the NHL the last several seasons, Vokoun was one of the main culprits in Nashville's season-opening skid, surrendering 14 tallies in his two starts. But the 30-year-old Czech delivered a dominant performance Saturday, turning aside all 25 shots he faced over the final two periods.

"My game is being smart and using my head, that is my greatest asset," he said. "When I don't have my focus, I am not very good. If you aren't using your assets, nobody is very good. I need to make sure I keep my composure and worry about my job of stopping the puck."

Paul Kariya opened the scoring and gave Nashville the lead for good just 6:49 into the contest with his first goal of the season. Arnott carried the puck into the left faceoff circle before sending a cross-slot feed to Kariya, who beat netminder Curtis Joseph from near the right goalpost.

"I thought we played pretty well," Kariya said. "We created a lot of scoring chances. Arnott is a terrific player down the middle. With his size and strength, he creates a lot of room. It was a big win."

Martin Erat gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period with a pretty goal. After driving down the right side and through the circle, Erat faked a shot before kicking the puck to his forehand. He skated through the slot and banged home his second goal of the season from the doorstep.

Scott Hartnell and defenseman Ryan Suter also tallied for Nashville, which went 1-for-4 on the power play.

"I don't think people realize how big a win this is for us," Arnott said. "To go 0-4 would have been disappointing. We have so much talent on this team, you can put anyone together and it is probably going to work."

Joseph stopped 21 shots while Fredrik Sjostrom netted the lone goal for Phoenix, which has lost four straight.

"It's in our minds," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said of his team's rough start. "We realize it, we've addressed it, we've got to tighten up. That's the bottom line."

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