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Tkachuk Slaps 3 By Predators


Keith Tkachuk and the other members of the Phoenix Coyotes' top line finally came to the rescue.

Tkachuk scored two of his three goals during the Coyotes' three-goal first period and linemates Jeremy Roenick and Dallas Drake each had three assists as Phoenix beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Sunday night.

"If we're going to win hockey games our line's going to have to score some goals," said Tkachuk, who has scored five goals in the Coyotes' last two games. "We got the job done and got the win and that's all that counts."

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  • The victory, Phoenix's second in its last 11 games, snapped a four-game losing streak.

    "It was a victory and right now any victory is a good victory," said Phoenix coach Jim Schoenfeld. "Although we missed some opportunities to put the game away, we got the win."

    Greg Adams also scored and Dallas Drake and Jeremy Roenick each had three assists for the Coyotes, whose three first-period goals alone represented their biggest offensive output since Feb. 13.

    "Anytime you can break out and score four goals in a game you should win the hockey game," said Tkachuk, whose eighth career hat trick moved him within four of Dale Hawerchuk for the franchise record. "It's just nice to get some goals. When you go to the net, good things happen."

    Scott Walker scored twice, Joel Bouchard also scored and Sebastien Bordelau assisted on all three goals for the Predators, who are winless in their last five games. Nashville remained eight points behind the idle San Jose Sharks for the Western Conference's eighth playoff spot.

    "We're fighting for a playoff spot and it's not acceptable to come out like we did, to come out flat," Walker said. "That's been the story all year, at least most of our games. We let a team get ahead of us, then wake up and make it a game. But for all intents and purposes, the game's over before igoes to the second period."

    Phoenix made the most of its limited opportunities in the first period, scoring three goals on its first four shots against Mike Dunham.

    Tkachuk gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead 88 seconds in the game when he took a quick pass from Dallas Drake on a two-on-none breakaway and fired into the open left side of the net.

    Bouchard responded at 7:32 of the first period when he took a pass from Tom Fitzgerald, Tkachuk's cousin, in the left circle and beat Nikolai Khabibulin to the far post to tie the game 1-1.

    The Coyotes regained a 2-1 lead just under three minutes later when Adams faked a shot from the high slot before walking in on Dunham and scoring over the goalie's left shoulder.

    Tkachuk made it 3-1 at 12:52 of the period when his shot from the low slow trickled past Dunham.

    Walker pulled the Predators within 3-2 just 53 seconds into the second period when he took the puck from behind the net, circled back to the left circle and beat Khabibulin.

    But Tkachuk scored again 17 seconds later with a slap shot between Durham's pads from the left circle, his third goal on four shots.

    Walker again pulled Nashville within a goal, at 4-3, when he scored at 18:38 of the second period for his second two-goal game in his last seven games.

    "They made it a close hockey game," Drake said. "But I thought we battled pretty hard and carried the play most of the night."

    Khabibulin, who missed Friday's 7-2 loss to Detroit with a strained groin, has allowed 25 goals in his last eight starts.

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