Coyotes run Preds out of the desert, take 2-0 lead…
The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 at Jobbing.com arena to take a 2-0 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Semi Finals. Phoenix, vowing to play better in game 2, did just that from the start of the 1st period.
The Coyotes got on the board early when Antoine Vermette finished off a great bit of passing from Keith Yandle & Mikael Boedker for a 1-0 lead at 8:32 of the opening period. The Preds were heavily outplayed in every facet of the game over most of the period, but were able to even the score with 2:47 remaining after a great break out pass by Nick Spalling to Kevin Klein, who while falling & spinning was able to make an accurate pass to Andrei Kostitsyn in the slot who beat Coyotes Goaltender Mike Smith.
The momentum generated by this late period score would not last very long as Phoenix would take a 2-1 lead capitalizing on a Kevin Klein turnover in the neutral zone that saw the Coyotes break into the offensive area. When the puck goes behind the Preds net, everyone in white gets caught standing around as Radim Vrbata pushes the loose puck through the legs of Rinne to a wide open Martin Hanzal who put the puck into an empty net at 3:47 of the 2nd period.
Vrbata would then extend the Coyotes lead at 7:05 of the 2nd period when Preds David Legwand caught a puck in midair that had bounced off the top of the net & for some reason, throws the puck directly into the slot for an easy Phoenix conversion & a 3-1 lead (this could be the worst play of the season).
The Preds would cut the lead to 3-2 on a great tip in deflection of a Ryan Suter shot from the blue line by Patric Hornqvist, beating Smith with 8:40 remaining in the 2nd period. Again, this momentum was short lived as Phoenix answered just 30 seconds later with a score by Taylor Pyatt, who cleaned up a big rebound of a Shane Doan slapshot in the slot while Preds players Alex Radulov & Klein stood around watching the play unfold for a 4-2 Coyotes lead.
The 3rd period would start with Vrbata taking an Interference penalty just 22 seconds in. The Preds would cut the lead to one again when Ryan Suter would convert on the power play to get his 1st goal of the playoffs at 53 seconds. The momentum this time lasted almost 3 minutes as Shane Doan was able to get loose in front of the Preds net & tip home a shot from Derrick Morris to once & for all extend the lead to 2 goals & a 5-3 lead at 3:36 of the final frame.
The Preds would outshoot the Coyotes in the 3rd period 9-8, but would never mount much of a comeback & now head home for games 3 & 4 at Bridgestone Arena down 2 games to none in the best of seven series. The Preds were better in the faceoff dot in this game, but not anywhere else. It would be easy to see 9 goals in 2 games & blame this all on Pekka Rinne, but this has been an entire team failure with what Coach Trotz refers to as too many passengers on the ice.
There were some decent individual moments for the Preds, but the effort was not there & the team was beaten by a hungrier & grittier team that seems to want it more than Nashville does. Game 3 is a must win if the Preds have any plans of advancing to the next round. The team will return to Nashville & practice before game 3 on Wednesday Night 8 CT.
F Matt Halischuk has missed the last 5 playoff games with an upper body injury.
The bottom line…
-The Nashville Predators trail 2-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes in the best of seven Western Conference Semi-Finals.
-In the Western Conference Playoffs #8 LA leads #2 St Louis 1-0.
- Eastern Conference #1 NYR leads #7 Was 1-0, #4 Phi leads #6 NJ 1-0.
-The Predators return home for game 3 on Wednesday 8 CT.
-D Ryan Suter led all Preds in time on ice with 30:20 with 1 Goal, 1 Assist, & 6 shots on goal.
-D Hal Gill & Francis Bouillon were only ones on unit to not have a minus rating.
-F Mike Fisher played 21:12 had 1 Assist, 2 shots, 4 hits & was 15-8 in the faceoff dot.
-F Andrei Kostitsyn had 1 Goal, 2 shots on goal, 2 blocked shots, & 1 hit in 13:50 of ice time.