NHL.com: Goals should be hard to come by for Coyotes, Preds

Monday, 04.23.2012 / 11:39 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: Goals should be hard to come by for Coyotes, Preds
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Two of the game's best coaches and two of the game's best goaltenders will go head-to-head in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Indeed, goals will be hard to come by as the Coyotes and Predators will meet in a Western Conference Semifinal after the Phoenix franchise advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years with Monday's 4-0 win at Chicago.

Each team won twice during its four-game, regular-season series. The Coyotes, though, went 2-1-1 as it dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to Nashville on March 12.

Both teams finished in the top 10 in the League in goals allowed per game. Phoenix, led by coach Dave Tippett and goaltender Mike Smith, finished fifth at 2.37 goals per game. Some felt the Coyotes were in trouble after losing Ilya Bryzgalov last summer, but Smith has been a rock between the pipes for Phoenix all season long.

Nashville, guided by world-class netminder Pekka Rinne, ranked 10th at 2.50 goals per game. An eighth-round draft pick (No. 258) in 2004, Rinne reached the 40-win plateau for the first time this season while recording five shutouts.

Not much has changed this postseason. The Predators disposed of the Detroit Red Wings in five games, as Rinne allowed just nine goals in five games while boasting a .944 save percentage.

Rinne has a very formidable opponent in Round 2, as Smith has been nothing short of sensational for Phoenix. Smith stopped all 39 shots he faced in Monday's series-clinching 4-0 win at Chicago and boasted a 1.81 goals-against average in six games against the Blackhawks with a .950 save percentage.

Two of the game's best leaders will go head-to-head in this series. Phoenix captain Shane Doan has been with the club since being drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1995, one year before the franchise relocated to the desert. Shea Weber, meanwhile, has emerged as the go-to guy in the Nashville dressing room and is unquestionably one of the top defensemen in the League.

Alexander Radulov has played a huge role for Nashville since returning from the KHL in March. The Russian forward had a goal and four assists against the Red Wings in the opening round after going 3-4-7 in nine games down the stretch. With Radulov on board, the Preds were able to secure the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage against Detroit.

They won't have home-ice advantage in Round 2, however. Despite some fierce competition, Phoenix managed to secure the No. 3 seed with a record of 42-27-13. While the Predators finished with seven more points, the Coyotes were able to claim the Pacific Division crown.

Phoenix went 22-13-6 on home ice during the regular season, while Nashville finished 22-16-3 on the road.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61