Vrbata scores hat trick, assists on winner for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Radim Vrbata had a career game and Zbynek Michalek scored a rare goal. It was a winning combination for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Michalek scored with 29 seconds left in overtime on a 40-foot slap shot to give the Coyotes a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

The Coyotes were down 3-2 in the second period when Vrbata tied it with his third goal of the game. Michalek's winner was his second goal of the season and first since Dec. 22 against Vancouver.

"I don't score many goals and to help the team like this feels great," Michalek said. "We played hard for 65 minutes and it paid off in the end."

Vrbata assisted on the winner for Coyotes, who improved to 18-0-0 when they score four goals or more. He tied a career best with four points, returning to the lineup after missing the last three games with a groin injury.

"It felt great because I was out for a week," Vrbata said. "We had three games in that time, and it was tough to watch. I was just happy to be in there and help the team."

Vrbata's first came as he converted Steven Reinprecht's pass into his 19th goal at 14:45 of the first period to make it 1-0.

Nashville tied the game and equaled a team record, when Alexander Radulov scored off a slap shot from the left face-off circle 7 seconds into the second period. The goal tied a team record for the fastest goal at the start of the second period.

Vrbata picked up his second of the game 51 seconds later. Vrbata's shot from deep in the left face-off circle hit of the stick of Nashville's Martin Erat, deflected high in the air and fell in behind goalie Chris Mason.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was satisfied with his team's effort.

"We would like to pick up the two points, but we'll settle for the one," he said. "This team has shown great resiliency, and we were better as the game went along."

The Predators took the lead with two goals within 1:46 in the second period.

Rich Peverley tied the game at 13:32 when the Coyotes failed to clear a loose puck in the slot. Peverley redirected the puck past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Erat gave Nashville the lead after his centering pass from behind the Phoenix net deflected off Bryzgolov's skate and into the net at 15:18.

"We were jumping into the play and our defense was really creative," forward Scott Nichol said. "We didn't come out that great in the first, but then I thought we played really well in the second, third and in the overtime."

Vrbata tied it with his 21st of the season, jamming in a centering pass from Reinprecht in at 17:25. It was Vrbata's third career hat trick. His last one came in 2003 when he was Colorado.

"We're finding ways to win games and get big points," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "So, this is definitely a big win for us."

Game notes
Phoenix defenseman Keith Ballard appeared in his 200th NHL game. Referee Dennis LeRue collided with Nashville forward Josh Langfeld with 2:13 remaining in the first period, and left the ice. He returned for the second period and finished the game Vrbata's hat trick was the third by a Phoenix player this season. The other came from Peter Mueller and Fredrik Sjostrom. Perverely's goal was his first in the NHL. He was recalled for the second time this season from Milwaukee on Jan. 14