Coyotes Lose Arena Opener

Archived from 2003-04 season.

NHL teams

The Phoenix Coyotes opened the new Glendale Arena with a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators as a standing-room-only crowd of 19,052 jammed the 17,799-seat facility.

"We wanted to send the fans home happy, and we couldn't do that," captain Shane Doan said. "We never really gave the crowd a chance to get the festivities going after all the pregame ceremonies and things. And if you can do that early in the first period, it makes a big difference."

The $220 million suburban arena is expected to make the Coyotes profitable after the team lost millions each season in the America West Arena in downtown Phoenix, where more than one-fourth of the 16,200 hockey seats had an obstructed view of the ice.

"It's too bad we couldn't have had a better outcome tonight, but I think the fans really enjoyed themselves," Coyotes' Brian Savage said. "They were very loud, especially the lower bowl area. The fans are right on top of you, and it's a great feeling out there on the ice."

"I loved it out there," said goalie Sean Burke, who faced only 21 shots. "The sight lines are great, and it's loud. The boards were a little bouncy. There was a play there in the first period when (the puck) came right off and almost caught me. That's something we're going to have to be aware of, but that's the advantage of us being in this building all the time and, hopefully, we'll learn those little quirks."

The Coyotes said all the pregame festivities didn't affect their below-average start against the Predators, though that was a concern leading into the game.

"There was a lot of distractions and a lot of questions as to whether we would be able to come out and play our game," defenseman David Tanabe said. "For the most part, we stuck to our game. Early on, the shots were a little bit lopsided in their favor, but we were able to create chances. Their goalie (Tomas Vokoun) just played real well for them, and we weren't able to win this one for our fans, which is disappointing."

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