April 29, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) and goalie Jason LaBarbera (1) celebrate after beating the Nashville Predators 5-3 in game two of the 2012 Western Conference semifinals at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
The Phoenix Coyotes were a team on a mission Sunday night. They came out of the gate skating hard, finishing their checks, and being opportunistic. In addition, they were patient and made smart decisions with the puck throughout the game. As a result they scored a 5-3 win the second game of their playoff series with the Nashville Predators. They now head to Music City U.S.A. with a 2-0 series lead.
- The game was another high scoring affair between the two squads resulting in 5-3 final score.
- The Coyotes owned the even strength play throughout the game.
- Keith Yandle looked poised, confident, and ready to impose his will when he stepped on the ice. He had two assists including a really nice pass on the first goal of the contest.
- While Marc-Antoine Pouliot will never be confused with Lauri Korpikoski, he did a yeoman's job filling in for the Yotes dinged up winger who was clearly nowhere near 100% after returning to the lineup against the Hawks.
- Nashville's second pairing (Klein/Josi) was a mess. As good as they looked against the Wings is as bad as they have looked against Phoenix. Klein had a nice assist on the Preds first goal, but that didn't make up for the turnovers, missed assignments, poor positioning, etc.
- Mikkel Boedker continued his strong play. He continues to use his speed, skating ability, and skill in the ways the organization and the fans have been waiting for.
- David Schlemko struggled early in the game, but eventually settled down.
- This was the first time the Coyotes outshot an oppoenent in the post season (39 to 33).
- The Prime Line looked good in Prime Time. Radim Vrbata has the most impressive play of the game with his five hole assist from behind the Nashville net to his centerman Martin Hanzal for the second goal of the contest.
- The Yotes fourth line may not have score din the game but their presence was felt every time they stepped on the ice. They were relentless in attacking the puck. When they got it they did it all. Tape to tape passes, cycling, and shooting the puck on net.
- Pekka Rinne hasn't been amazing in goal, but his teammates are the real reason Nashville has given up 9 goals in two games.
- David Legwand was a no show in the offensive end and his hand pass that resulted in the Yotes 3rd goal was a head scratcher.
Five For Winning
1. Keep Foot on the Gas for 60 minutes. At some point Phoenix is going to get burned by giving away leads and getting pinned in their own zone for long stretches of time.The Yotes need to luck to extend leads late in games, not bunker in and hope to hold on. As we've seen repeatedly in the playoffs all that does is lead to overtime hockey. Accomplished. For the first time this post season the Yotes had their foot on the accelerator the whole game.
2. The Power Play. The good news in the first game of the series was the Desert Dogs got power play goal early in Game 1 off an outstanding shot by Radim Vrbata. The bad news was the ensuing power plays looked below average for the most part. The Preds penalty kill appeared to be aggressive with the whomever had the puck on the Yotes two subsequent power plays after Vrbata's goal. If the Preds continue to be so aggressive opportunities should arise if the Yotes are moving their feet and the puck. Neutral. While the Coyotes didn't score on the power play tonight their power play looked credible. They were able to gain the zone , keep possession and get shots off.
3. Match Nashville's intensity - For the 3rd period and OT in Game One the Coyotes looked lifeless and were extremely lucked Nashville didn't win the game. The Coyotes only had one time where they had back to back shifts where their intensity matched that of the Preds during the lat two frames of action. If that happens again they will most likely not be enjoying a win in Game 2. Accomplished+. They not only matched Nashville's intensity, they exceeded it.
4. The Dots. The Coyotes controlled the faceoff circles in game and a Martin Hanzal faceoff win in OT led directly to Ray Whitney's game winning goal. The Yotes need to keep control. Push.The Coyotes lost the faceoff battle overall 38 to 35, but it was essentially a draw.
5. Penalties. Draw more. Take Less. The penalty differential was a -2 for Phoenix in Game One. Neutral.The teams were each called for four penalties in Game Two. Boyd Gordan and Keith Yandle's penalties were ones they should not have taken.
Our Three Stars
This was next to impossible to do tonight. There were at least 10 Coyotes who could have been considered.
1. Taylor Pyatt - 1 goal, 1 assist. Every time he stepped on the ice he was making things happen.
2. Antoine Vermette - 1 goal, 1 assist. Won the draw that led to 5th goal.
3. Shane Doan - 1 goal, 1 assist, 6 shots. The captain led by example.
Comment Of The Night
The series moves to Nashville for Game 3 & 4. Nashville will be a desperate team on Wednesday night. The Coyotes will need the same type of effort they had tonight if they want to take a commanding series lead in the best of seven clash.
For the Nashville perspective, check out our friends at On the Forecheck.