Predators fend off tenacious Coyotes in West thriller

The Nashville Predators squandered a two-goal lead before edging out the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 in a shootout as two of the Western Conference's playoff contenders turned up the intensity on Monday.

Nashville led 4-2 in the third period but were pegged back by goals from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Raffi Torres but the visitors battled through a scoreless overtime and prevailed in the sudden death decider.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped all three Phoenix shootout attempts and finished with 31 saves to help the Predators (41-21-7) maintain a tight grip on fifth place in the conference.

Keith Yandle responded again for the Coyotes (34-25-11), who have lost six of seven games and are seventh in the West, but the Predators surged clear with goals from Francis Bouillon and Craig Smith.

Mike Smith made 31 saves in the loss.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)