The Phoenix Coyotes
played pretty well for about 58 1/2 minutes Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Some nights, that will be enough to mask a couple of glaring errors in the other 90 seconds or so.
A road game in the Western Conference Semifinals is not just "some nights," though. The Nashville Predators
took advantage of the Coyotes during that blip and captured a 2-0 victory in Game 3.
Phoenix has another chance to assert its control of this series Friday night in Game 4, but the Coyotes want to limit the gaffes and apply more pressure in the offensive zone.
"We've talked about it. We didn't play a bad game. We were OK, but OK isn't going to win on the road in the playoffs. We have to be better than that," Phoenix captain Shane Doan
said Friday morning. "We gave them ... both goals were not normal mistakes that we've had throughout the playoffs, and we've got to limit them. If we can limit those and play the game that we want to play -- a little bit harder, a little bit more direct at the net. If we do that, good things should happen."
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett
said he wasn't expecting to make any lineup changes after Game 3, but also didn't rule it out. One missing guy who isn't expected to return is Lauri Korpikoski
, who has been absent for the past two contests in this series with an undisclosed injury.
Center Boyd Gordon
did not skate Thursday at practice or Friday during a very optional morning workout, but if Tippett does make a change, it could be if he was unable to play after blocking a Shea Weber
slap shot at close range Wednesday.
"There's adjustments to make, but we’ve got some healthy people and some non-healthy people," Tippett said. "We'll look at all the options. I'm not ruling out a change, but right now it looks like it will be the same."
Tippett made it clear Thursday that goaltender Mike Smith
was not the primary player at fault when Nashville's David Legwand
scored after Smith's pass behind his net was intercepted. The second goal came after Martin Erat
stripped the puck from Oliver Ekman-Larsson
, who has probably been Phoenix's top defenseman in this postseason, and set up Sergei Kostitsyn
and Mike Fisher
for a 2-on-0 at point-blank range.
Phoenix missed its own opportunities. Rostislav Klesla
hit the far post with a shot during an odd-man rush, and the Coyotes squandered a 5-on-3 in the third period.
"There's some areas that we can clean up," Tippett said. "I thought the two goals we made some mistakes, and I would classify those as unearned chances for them, so there's some areas you got to clean up. There's always subtle little tweaks here and there to grab an advantage. If you take those two goals out, it was a pretty tight game. You're looking for a player to make a big play, or a line to have a great shift.
"There's ways to win. We've been a pretty good club at finding ways to win in tight situations. We just have to try to get back to that."
Here’s what the Coyotes lineup could look like for Game 4:
- Martin Hanzal
- Radim Vrbata
- Antoine Vermette
- Shane Doan
- Boyd Gordon
- Marc-Antoine Pouliot
- Daymond Langkow
- Gilbert Brule
- Derek Morris
- Michal Rozsival
- Adrian Aucoin