NHL.com: Predators eager for another crack at Coyotes

Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 9:30 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: Predators eager for another crack at Coyotes

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

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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STANDINGS
 

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