NHL.com: Predators eager for another crack at Coyotes

Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 10:30 PM / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
NHL.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The way the Nashville Predators see it, once they knocked eight days of rust off their skates and found their legs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, they began to dominate play and pushed the Phoenix Coyotes back onto their hind legs for the third period and most of the overtime.

It just wasn't enough to win the game.

The Predators outshot Phoenix 16-1 in the third period and put 25 shots on Mike Smith in the final 34 minutes of the game, but could do no better than pull even on Martin Erat's power play goal with 4:42 left in regulation. And while the Coyotes had only seven shots after the second intermission, one was Ray Whitney's overtime game-winner that gave the Coyotes a 4-3 victory.

Nashville outshot Phoenix 42-24, drew five penalties and had a handful of prime scoring chances it would like to have back. The Predators tipped their sticks to Coyotes goalie Mike Smith while eagerly awaiting another crack at him.

"We have a couple of areas we have to tighten up," coach Barry Trotz said after Saturday's practice. "But we got three [goals] and they got four. We should make sure we win the game when we get three. We had lots of chances, but they found ways to keep it out of the net."

That sounds a lot like the rope-a-dope hockey the Coyotes used – by necessity, not design – to win three overtime games against Chicago on their way to a six-game series win in the first round. The Blackhawks felt they were this close to solving Phoenix, but never did.

But coming off their own first-round win over Detroit, the Predators remain confident that they are a win in Sunday's Game 2 from being right where they want to be.

"Everyone knew it wasn't going to be easy. They play a good team game," Nashville defenseman Shea Weber said. "They block a lot of shots and clear out the second chances. We had some chances we could have easily buried, but Smith made the saves. We're not frustrated, we just want to be better and find a way to win."

Not surprisingly, Mike Fisher and the Nashville centers spent part of Saturday's practice working on faceoffs. Phoenix won 59 percent of the draws (46-32) -- including Martin Hanzal's win that led to Whitney's winning goal. The Coyotes also used their dominance in the circle to help kill four Nashville power plays before Erat cleaned up a blocked shot in the slot to give the Predators their third goal on 27 postseason chances with the extra man.

"All their centers are really good," Fisher said. "We have to find a way to be better in that area and win more battles," Fisher said. "You try to learn tendencies and try to find another way. They play a lot like us. We won some of those (similar style) games against Detroit too. We've seen it. We know what to expect.

"But we were very good as the game wore on and we want to carry that on."

Nashville's Alexander Radulov was held without a shot and said he definitely felt the effects of the long layoff early on. He missed the net on all four shot attempts but said he felt much better as the game wore on.

"Their goalie played a huge game and he made big saves in the third period and overtime and that's what we have to battle through," Radulov said. "We have to make things harder on him. We tried hard and he was good, maybe in some areas, a little bit lucky. We had chance after chance we didn't bury in overtime. Then we make one mistake and they score."

Author: Jerry Brown | NHL.com Correspondent

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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