NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, May 7th
(All times Eastern)
(4) Nashville Predators (1-3) at (3) Phoenix Coyotes (3-1), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes will try to earn a trip to the
conference finals for the first time in franchise history tonight, as they
host the Nashville Predators in Game 5 at Jobing.com Arena.
The third-seeded Coyotes are holding a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven Western
Conference semifinal matchup and Phoenix can advance to the third round with
another win tonight. The Coyotes have never made it to the conference finals
and that includes the franchise's time as the original Winnipeg Jets from
Phoenix rode goaltender Mike Smith to a pivotal win in Friday's Game 4 at
Nashville. Smith made 25 saves to earn his second shutout of the postseason as
the Coyotes held on for the 1-0 triumph at Bridgestone Arena.
Smith has been nothing short of amazing in these playoffs, going 7-3 with a
1.85 goals-against average. All told, he's stopped 347-of-367 shots in the
playoffs for a save percentage of .946.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan netted the game's lone goal in the first period to
help give Phoenix a commanding 3-1 series lead.
"The game went exactly how we anticipated," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett
said. "I thought it was going to be tightly contested, maybe a break here or
there gives one team an edge, and that's exactly what happened."
Phoenix last lost a series when leading 3-1 in the 1999 conference
quarterfinals against St. Louis. The franchise was victims of a 3-1 comeback
twice during its years in Winnipeg. The Jets lost to Edmonton in the 1990
Smythe Division semifinals and blew another 3-1 lead in losing to Vancouver in
the same round in 1992.
Pekka Rinne stopped 23-of-24 shots in a losing effort for Nashville in Game 4.
"They had a good start to their game and after that we got it going. In the
second and third we played really well, but we just couldn't get it by
[Smith]," said Rinne.
Like the Coyotes, Nashville is also aiming for the franchise's first-ever
trip to the conference finals. The Predators have never won a playoff series
after trailing 3-1.
Nashville forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were both kept out
of the lineup for the second straight game after being suspended for Game 3
for violating team rules. With the Predators' backs against the wall, both
players expect to make their returns tonight.
Radulov leads the Predators with six points in seven playoff games this
spring, while Kostitsyn's three goals are tied for the team lead with David
Legwand and Gabriel Bourque.
The Coyotes will play tonight without defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who has
been suspended for one game by the NHL for boarding Predators forward Matt
Halischuk in Game 4.
05/07 10:38:49 ET