Johnson earns first NHL shutout in Coyotes debut
Smith missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, and Tippett chose to go with Johnson rather than usual backup Jason LaBarbera.
Johnson was making his seventh NHL appearance, fifth as a starter. In his previous appearances, all for the New York Rangers, he never played at home. He played in one game for the Rangers as a substitute last season. His last NHL start was three years ago.
"I wasn't really nervous," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. It's been a while since I've been in NHL action, so definitely the first period — getting kind of my feet back into it — was important. I didn't really feel nervous. I felt good, though. I felt good after the second and third, I felt really comfortable."
Three of Nashville's first five games ended in shootout losses, but it fell behind early in this one and Phoenix steadily built on the lead.
Vermette, with assists from Nick Johnson and Yandle, put Phoenix up just three minutes into the game with a left-handed one-timer through a tiny window past goalie Pekka Rinne, who had 21 saves.
In the second period, Nashville tried to turn up the pressure, to no avail. Then Korpikoski knocked in a loose puck from in front of the net for his 50th career goal and the Coyotes led 2-0 with 3:12 left in the period.
Phoenix put it away with two third-period goals.
The Coyotes made it 3-0 when Yandle passed to Nick Johnson, who knocked it past Renne with 9:26 remaining. Yandle's power-play goal with 4:58 to go wrapped up the scoring.
Tippett said he hoped Smith would be ready to go by this weekend. Asked if Johnson's shutout warranted another start Wednesday night against Edmonton, the Coyotes coach would not say.
"You know that old saying 'If it's not broke, don't fix it,'" he said. "I go by 'If it's not broke, you haven't looked hard enough.' So we'll see."
Notes: The Coyotes were without C Martin Hanzal for the third time in four games with a lower-body injury. ... Greg Jamison told The Arizona Republic he expects to meet the Friday deadline to complete purchase of the Coyotes from the NHL. The new lease agreement with the city of Glendale expires if no deal is reached by then. ... Nashville's seven-game road trip matches the longest in franchise history. ... The Denmark national soccer team, which plays Mexico in Glendale on Wednesday night, attended the game.
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