Nashville shuts out Coyotes 2-0 playing “Predator Hockey”
The Nashville Predators got back to basics on Wednesday night when they shut out the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Phoenix leads the series 2-1.
With Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn out of the lineup for violating a team rule, Nashville returned to playing “Predator Hockey.”
“We stepped up and played Predator Hockey, finally, in this series,” Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said.
Nashville forward David Legwand agrees.
“I think it was,” he said. “It was a good hockey game. We limited their chances and took advantage of ours, and scored on ours. That is what we need to do and how we need to play. Obviously, if we do the right things, it is going to be better for us in the long run.”
Legwand opened scoring for Nashville at 8:10 into the first period. Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith played the puck off the boards behind the net, but Gabriel Bourque beat the Coyotes defenseman to get to the puck and pass it to Legwand. With Smith out of position, Legwand was able to pick up the tally.
Mike Fisher added to the Predators lead just 1:06 later. Pekka Rinne picked up his first career postseason shutout, making 32 saves on the night.
“In the last 7 minutes, I think they pushed a little bit with the 5-on-3. Our [penalty] killers did a good job. [Rinne] was huge; he made some big saves,” Legwand said.
Rinne wasn’t surprised at the flurry of action in front of his net towards the end of regulation.
“That’s usually what happens when it’s 5-on-3. A lot of space out there for them, but we made some huge blocks too — [Francis] Bouillon made a couple, and Hal Gill made a couple. That was key. I think at the time there were four or five minutes left, and a goal would have really helped [Phoenix],” Rinne said.
With Radulov and Kostitsyn out of the lineup, Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo saw action for the first time during round 2 of the playoffs.
After morning skate, Barry Trotz said if Nashville won Game 3, the same lineup would take to the ice for Game 4 on Friday night. After the game, Trotz addressed the situation.
“It’s just a few minutes after the game, and I can’t give you many answers, but it’s very hard to change it if everybody is committed like they were. It was a statement. I think it’s a privilege to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs, to play for the Cup, and those guys took advantage of the privilege of playing. I think that’s the sacred part of the playoffs. It will be very hard to change a whole lot from that group,” Trotz said.
The Predators look to even the series 2-2 on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena. The puck drops on Game 4 at 6:30 pm CDT.
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