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 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Wilson 9 2 5 4 7
R. Johansen 9 3 3 1 6
R. Josi 9 0 6 -3 6
S. Weber 9 2 3 -4 5
M. Ekholm 9 3 1 2 4
J. Neal 9 2 1 -3 3
M. Fisher 9 2 1 -3 3
F. Forsberg 9 1 2 -6 3
C. Smith 6 1 1 3 2
R. Ellis 9 0 2 0 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 4 5 0 .915 2.48
C. Hutton 0 0 0 .000 0.00