After getting out-played in the final period and overtime in Game 1, the Coyotes came out the aggressor in Game 2 and played as solid a game the team has played in the playoffs, according to Head Coach Dave Tippett.
“That was the best 60 minutes we have played in the playoffs for sure,” Tippett said after the Coyotes knocked off the Nashville Predators 5-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference semi-finals. “Everyone to a man was focused on how we can play better and we did.”
The win gives the Coyotes a 2-0 lead in the series, that is now heading back to Nashville.
“They are going to respond,” mentioned captain Coyote Shane Doan on heading out on the road for games three and four. “We have to find a way to be even better in the next one.”
For the second time in the as many games the Coyotes jumped out to a 1-0 lead. This time it was a beautiful one-timer from Keith Yandle to Antione Vermette. The play was initiated by an aggressive and speedy move into the Predators zone by a confident Mikkel Boedker. For Vermette it was his fifth goal of the playoffs.
The Predators would answer back before the end of the period. On a two-on-one break, defenseman Kevin Klein made a highlight reel move and then pass to Andrei Kostitsyn who sent it into the net. It was Kostitsyn’s second goal of the series. We were tied at one after one.
Then began a wild second period for the 17,217 fans in attendance. A Jobing.com Arena atmosphere that after the game goalie Mike Smith called, “fantastic!”
Phoenix got three goals in the period from Hanzel (second of playoffs), Vrbata (second of playoffs) and Pyatt (third of playoffs) to match the goal total reached on Rinne in game one.
The Predators did answer with one past Mike Smith in the period on a power play goal by Patric Hornqvist. The score was 4-2 and the Coyotes out shot the Predators 31-24 after two periods.
That two goal cushion would not last long. With the Predators on a four on three power play, Ryan Suter got his first goal of the series making it a 4-3 game. The Coyotes had at one point converted on 18 consecutive penalty kills dating back to game two of the Blackhawks series. After that goal they had failed to convert a penalty kill on three of four tries.
But the Coyotes continued to answer. Off a face off, Shane Doan redirected a Derek Morris wrist shot past Rinne once again. Second goal of the playoffs for Doan.
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne only allowed nine goals in five games against Detroit in round one. Rinne has now given that same amount in just two games against the Coyotes.
And the five goals for the Coyotes, the most they have scored in a playoff game this year.
“It’s nice to see pucks start going in for us,” said Mike Smith. “It’s a crazy time of year and we are just fortunate enough to come up on top.”
Not a bad two games by a team that yet again has been considered the underdog.
“When you are the underdog in a series normally there is a mindset that you will lose the next game,” explained coach Tippett. “This team doesn’t buy that and asked themselves why cant we win again?”
The series now turns to Nashville where the Coyotes won both times they visited Bridgestone Arena during the regular season. Despite having success there and having a two game lead in the series, Martin Hanzel knows there is still a lot of work to do.
“The playoffs are a whole different game,” explained Hanzel when asked about the team’s confidence heading into Game 3.
Game 3 is Wednesday from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.