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Vrbata, Klesla lead Coyotes to 7-4 victory over Predators

Phoenix Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic, celebrates after scoring against the Nashville Predators in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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Phoenix Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata, of the Czech Republic, celebrates after scoring against the Nashville Predators in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Phoenix ended its losing streak with a flurry of first-period goals.

Radim Vrbata had two goals and an assist and Rostislav Klesla added four assists and the Coyotes scored six times in the opening period to cruise to a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Martin Hanzal, David Moss, Matthew Lombardi, Keith Yandle and Antoine Vermette also scored for the Coyotes, who snapped a seven-game losing streak, thanks to their big first period that included five goals in a span of 6:40.

The Coyotes' seven goals were just one short of the number they had in the entirety of their skid. Phoenix has scored 10 goals in the last two nights after being outscored 16-5 in its previous six games.

"We haven't had much luck around the net and pucks seemed to be going in from all over the place tonight," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "That's the way it has gone lately. Lately, there are crazy games and fortunately, we got on top of this one."

David Legwand, Rich Clune, Gabriel Bourque, and Shea Weber scored for Nashville, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

Playing its second game in as many nights following a 4-3 overtime loss at Minnesota, Phoenix jumped all over Nashville early.

Hanzal, Vrbata, and Moss gave the Coyotes a 3-0 lead before the game was even 4 minutes old. All three goals were scored against Nashville starter Pekka Rinne, who was removed from the game following Moss' tally. Rinne stopped just one of the four shots he faced in that span.

"Yeah, it was embarrassing," Rinne said. "They just ... everything they did found a way to the back of the net."

Chris Mason replaced Rinne, but it did not make much of a difference. Lombardi, a former Predator, and Yandle scored goals 1:18 apart to make it 5-0 at 8:26.

Legwand and Clune scored goals 30 seconds apart to get Nashville on the board just before the midway point of the first, but Vrbata got his second of the game at 15:57 before Bourque had the period's last goal with less than 4 minutes left.

"Whatever it takes, if it takes seven goals to win, that's what we need right now," Vrbata said. "It was a crazy first period. That's not our style of play. I'm sure that's not theirs either, but we will take whatever we can get."

The six goals allowed in the first tied a Nashville franchise record for most goals against in one period.

"I've been here a long time, and I haven't seen anything like that," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "They scored three goals on three shots. They had five goals on six shots. Mentally, that's pretty stunning because that doesn't happen very often."

Rinne returned to Nashville's net to start the second period, but Vermette put one by him just 2:44 into the middle frame.

Klesla's four assists set career highs in both that category and points in a game.

"We're a way better team when we are going forward instead of trying to chase it," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We obviously have to be good in our own zone and be better defensively, but at the same time we have to be in attacking mindset and that makes us so much more effective."

Weber's goal came midway through the third period with the teams skating four-on-four.

Jason LaBarbera earned the victory for Phoenix, ending his personal three-game losing streak.

Notes: Lombardi's goal was the 100th of his NHL career. ... Vrbata surpassed the 400-point mark in his career. ... Thursday marked the 1,000th game of Phoenix left wing Steve Sullivan's NHL career. Sullivan played 317 regular-season games in parts of six seasons with Nashville. During his time with the Predators, Sullivan won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2009 following his return to action after missing nearly two years with a back injury. ... Nashville has allowed a power-play goal in seven consecutive games. ... Bourque leads the Predators with 11 goals. ... Nashville C Mike Fisher had one assist, extending his scoring streak to eight games, one game shy of tying his career best.

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