NHL.com: Preds need to solve Coyotes' defense

Saturday, 05.5.2012 / 1:27 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: Preds need to solve Coyotes\' defense

NASHVILLE -- Just as the Phoenix Coyotes did to the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- winning all but one game by one goal -- they are doing the same to the Nashville Predators.

Nashville lost Game 1 in overtime, Game 2 by two goals and Game 4 again by one goal in a 1-0 loss Friday night at Bridgestone Arena.

The Coyotes' defense has been stifling. They yielded only five shots in the first period to Nashville in Game 4 and 25 for the game. In that game – and even in Game 3 which Nashville won 2-0 – the Preds have had great difficulty getting shots through to the net.

"I think it's desperate, but confident," Preds forward Colin Wilson said. "I think that's what's going to allow us to go on and play an even-keel game when we go out there (for Game 5 in Phoenix on Monday) because we don't want to be running around everywhere. Being confident and desperate is what's going to help us to win the next three games."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said that he would like to see the Preds' combination of shots attempted, missed and blocked to be about 70 instead of the 55 range, where they were in Game 4.

"They do collapse in front," Preds third-line center Nick Spaling said. "A lot of time, they have five guys really tight to the net and they block shots. I think it's a matter of continuing to try to put pucks there and get guys there. It's all we can do is to keep shooting and throw everything we can at the net."

The Preds' main issue in Game 4 was getting opportunities, but missing the net. That makes it impossible to get rebounds, which is one of the best ways to beat a goaltender who is playing as well as Mike Smith is for the Coyotes.

"We're doing a little bit of playing outside right now," Spaling said. "They're forcing us to play outside. I think we can do a better job of creating offense by getting a little bit more interior and forcing shots through and creating rebounds."

Nashville allowed one goal to Phoenix in two games at Bridgestone Arena in Games 3 and 4, but managed to win only one game. Trotz said the Preds have "no wiggle room" and "no mulligans" as they face elimination and seemingly called on All-Star defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, the team's captain, to be better in Game 5.

"We haven't found ways to win," he said. "We've got to find ways to win. Our best players have to be our best players. Some guys have played OK. There's no room for OK. We only have room for your best and we've got to be our best. Any player not at his best for Game 5 and going forward, it lessens our chances of getting back in this series."

Author: John Manasso | NHL.com Correspondent

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 54 11 27 -3 38
F. Forsberg 54 17 18 -7 35
S. Weber 54 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 54 6 27 2 33
J. Neal 54 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 54 6 18 3 24
R. Ellis 53 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 54 11 7 -2 18
C. Jarnkrok 53 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 37 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 7 .903 2.54
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36