Nashville tries to stave off elimination on Monday night
The Los Angeles Kings have already punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals when they swept the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon. Monday night, the Phoenix Coyotes will try to join the Kings when they look to close out their series against the Nashville Predators.
After winning both games at home to open the series, the Coyotes traveled to Nashville and earned a split in Music City.
Now, the Predators find themselves on the brink of elimination heading into Monday night’s Game 5.
During their tenure in the desert, the Coyotes have never won a game at home when they could win the series, sporting an 0-5 record in those contests.
If Phoenix is going to take out the Predators in five games, the Coyotes will need to do so without defenseman Rostislav Klesla. After grabbing Matt Halischuk’s jersey and throwing him into the boards during Game 4, Klesla has been suspended by the League for Game 5.
“I didn’t really see it in real life, because I was blocked out with the TV crews between the benches and people standing up, but when I looked at it on film, I thought it was a very dangerous hit,” Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said.
At practice on Sunday morning, Trotz tried out some new lines.
Colin Wilson, who was moved to the top line with Martin Erat and Mike Fisher during Friday’s Game 4 loss, stayed on the top line.
After not playing the entire first playoff series against Detroit, Wilson was pleased to have his hard work acknowledged by the coaching staff.
“It was a nice reward from the coaches. They certainly don’t give you any of your ice time, you have to earn it. It was nice to get out with those guys. I have played with [Erat] in the past, but I’ve never played with [Fisher]. Marty is great playmaker. He is very easy to play with. It was nice to get moved onto that line,” Wilson said.
The second unit of David Legwand centering Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist remained unchanged. The trio have played together since Game 3 when Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were taken out of the Predators lineup for violating the team curfew.
The third line consisted of Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn being centered by Nick Spaling. Paul Gaustad was centering Sergei Kostitsyn and Brandon Yip on the fourth line.
The new line combinations allow for a balanced attack that could provide some much needed offense at even strength, and will be difficult to defend, especially without Klesla in the Phoenix lineup.
The Predators also have the third best road power play in the playoffs, ranked only behind St. Louis and Philadelphia. For Nashville to push the series to a Game 6 on Wednesday night, they will have to continue to produce on the road with the man advantage, a power play that is clicking 35.7 percent of the time away from Bridgestone Arena.
In four games on the road this postseason, the Predators have a franchise-record 5 goals on 14 power play opportunities. The numbers have gone up in the second series at Jobing.com Arena. Nashville has 3 goals on 7 attempts with the man advantage for a 42.8 percent success rate in Phoenix.
If the Predators win Game 5 to force a sixth contest, the series will return to Smashville for a Wednesday night tilt at Bridgestone Arena. A start time for a potential Game 6 has yet to be determined. Monday’s Game 5 starts at 9 pm CDT.