Post-Game Musings: Game 3 vs Phoenix

Wednesday, 05.2.2012 / 11:39 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Post-Game Musings: Game 3 vs Phoenix

From the opening faceoff, the Preds set the tone that tonight's game was going to be different than the first two; the coaches opted to open with the Spaling-Wilson-Yip energy line and those guys made a conscious effort to throw the body around on that first shift.

The crowd responded with similar energy from the get-go and Nashville exited the first period with a 2-0 lead; Pekka Rinne made sure the score held up as Nashville cut its series deficit to one game, 2-1.

The Preds have an opportunity to even the series on home ice Friday night in Game 4.

Now on to the musings…

THREE MUSINGS:
Wall Battles -- Both Nashville goals --- the Legwand goal to open the scoring and the Fisher goal 1:06 later --- came off of board battles won by the Preds. The first after Hornqvist won a battle high in the defensive zone to chip the puck past the Phoenix defender and then continued hard after the loose puck to force Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith to play the play the puck into a turnover for Legwand's goal. The second came after Erat won the puck back on the halfboards in the offensive zone and fed a two-on-one down low between Fisher and Kostitsyn. Those are two examples of the type of "detail plays" the coaching staff stressed the last two days as "returning to Predators hockey."

Defensive Communictation -- Nashville's communication in the defensive zone has been markedly better tonight than earlier in the series. It has helped the Preds pick up the trailing man and the backdoor cuts better tonight than they did in Games 1 and 2. As a result, the Preds have been in better position tonight to win the races for loose pucks in the defensive zone and are limiting sustained zone time for the Phoenix offense. Despite Phoenix's 32 shots, the Coyotes had very few odd-man rushes and almost no even-strength multi-shot sequences.

Reversal Of Fortune -- The Coyotes made a living in the First Round and first two games of Round 2 by blocking shots in the defensive zone and frustrating opposing offenses. Tonight the Preds “out blocked the Coyotes by a 15-9 margin and out “out hit” the Coyotes by a 26-21 count, paced by Jordin Tootoo’s game-high 5 hits --- in fact, the entire Gaustad-Halischuk-Tootoo line was effective tonight, giving the Preds solid, physical shifts in all three periods.

THREE STARS:
1) NSH G Pekka Rinne 32-save shutout;was great with the catching glove limiting rebound attempts; at his best on the PKs late in the third period
2) NSH F Martin Erat – 1 assist, +1; was the best skater all night for either team; strong on the puck, strong in 1-on-1 battles, creative passing, strong driving to the net; if not for some unlucky sequences around the crease could well have finished with three or four points tonight
3) NSH F Paul Gaustad – 68% (15-of-22) on draws; 4 hits, 3 blocked shots; 3:30 shorthanded ice time; excellent in 1-on-1 battles, key to PK (especially the third period 5-on-4 and 5-on-3 PKs)

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 6 4 2 1 6
C. Wilson 6 5 0 -1 5
J. Neal 6 4 1 0 5
C. Smith 6 2 3 2 5
M. Ribeiro 6 1 4 2 5
S. Jones 6 0 4 -6 4
R. Ellis 6 0 3 4 3
M. Cullen 6 1 1 -1 2
C. Jarnkrok 6 0 2 -2 2
C. Franson 5 0 2 1 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 2 4 2 .909 2.68