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2014 NHL Draft
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Coyotes vs Predators - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Rinne bounces back in Predators' 2-0 win

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – Earlier in the day, Pekka Rinne's goaltending coach said the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist did not have a chance to be dominant because of the way his team played in front of him in the first two games of its Western Conference Semifinal series with Phoenix.

Pekka Rinne
Goalie - NSH
GAA: 2.20 | SVP: 0.929
On Wednesday, the Preds returned to form and Rinne returned to his dominance, posting a 32-save shutout in a 2-0 win over the Coyotes in Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena that cut Nashville's deficit to 2-1 in the series.

Rinne entered having allowed nine goals in the first two games of the series -- as many as he had yielded in all five of the Preds' series victory against Detroit in the first round. Yet Mitch Korn, the Preds' goaltending coach, said he felt good about the way Rinne had played despite an .857 save percentage in the first two games against Phoenix.


Preds still believe Rinne can be game-changer

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Predators coach Barry Trotz held up his hand to signal a zero.

"We've given him this much help," Trotz said of goalie Pekka Rinne.

Rinne, who was recently named a Vezina Trophy finalist for the second straight season and who dominated Detroit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, has given up goals at a much higher rate in the first two games of Nashville's series with Phoenix, which is a major reason why the Preds find themselves down 0-2 on Wednesday entering Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena.

However, the Preds have rushed to Rinne's defense to say that those goals are a reflection of team play, not the play of their goalie. The Predators have allowed nine goals through two games against Phoenix, as many as they did in the entire Detroit series in which Rinne posted a 1.81 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

So far against Phoenix, Rinne's save percentage has plummeted to .857.

Asked for an appraisal of his play, Rinne said he thinks he could be better, but did offer a slight hint that his play could be a reflection of the team's play around him.

Coyotes not focused on suspended Preds

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes know all about how closing ranks and focusing on the task at hand can be therapeutic to a hockey team. The Coyotes were ravaged by injuries and suspensions during the first round but kept moving forward and beat the Chicago Blackhawks with some of their key players either sidelined or struggling.

That's why no one in the desert was buying the idea that the suspension of Nashville forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov would do anything but galvanize the Predators as they look to crawl out of an 0-2 hole in the Western Conference Semifinals with a win on home ice Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDSI).

Both players were suspended by the Predators on Tuesday for breaking team rules during the team's trip to Arizona. Kostitsyn, who had a goal in each of the first two games, and Radulov are key components of a power play that has produced three of the six goals the Predators scored in the first two games -- but they were also defensive liabilities as the Coyotes scored nine times and took a 2-0 lead in a series for the first time since 1987.


Predators look past drama, try to get back in series

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

"I think we need to play a different style than we did in Game 1 and Game 2 -- period. Because we weren't ourselves. We need to get back to the way we play, and that's defense-first and our offense will piggy-back off of that." -- Shea Weber

NASHVILLE -- By suspending wings Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with Phoenix on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena (9 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN), the Nashville Predators will be without two of their most skilled and most productive players in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Both players are pure scorers, known for deadly wrist shots. In their place, coach Barry Trotz said, will be two of the following three: rookie Craig Smith, veteran Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk, who has 121 regular season games to his credit. While they might not possess the high-end skill of their Eastern European counterparts, Halischuk and Smith had 15 and 14 goals, respectively, while Tootoo, who had a career year with 30 points, brings more of the raw, physical element.


Preds' Radulov, A. Kostitsyn to miss Game 3

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators announced on Tuesday morning that they will hold top-six forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov out of Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series with the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN) for an unspecified violation of team rules.
"The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things," general manager David Poile said in a statement. "We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates."

Poile expanded upon that statement in a brief session with reporters.

Vermette thriving in the desert

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was that gaping divot smack dab in the middle of the Phoenix Coyotes' lineup.

It was the reason the Coyotes couldn't match up with the rest of the Pacific Division, the reason they were fighting for their playoff lives in the Western Conference. It was the reason Kyle Turris' petulant and protracted contract holdout and trade demands grated on fans like fingers across a chalkboard.

Antoine Vermette
Center - PHX
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 8
SOG: 13 | +/-: 0
The Coyotes had a big, hard-checking center in Martin Hanzal. But they lacked a true playmaking center to match with their other offensive-minded wingers. Some who could win power-play faceoffs and turn them into goals for a unit that ranked last in the League in man-advantage tallies.

Daymond Langkow tried. Boyd Gordon, Kyle Chipchura and Marc-Antonie Pouliot tried. But a week before the trade deadline, Phoenix general manager Don Maloney got a jump on the last-minute shopping and caught Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson in fire-sale mode – bringing slick and savvy Antoine Vermette to the desert and using the second-round pick acquired by shipping Turris to Ottawa as the down payment.


Trotz considers changes in Preds' lineup

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – Predators coach Barry Trotz sounds like a man who might take a sledgehammer to his lineup.

In Games 1 and 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series in Phoenix, Nashville got away from the kind of play that has brought it this far and as Trotz contemplates changes for Game 3 on Wednesday with the Preds trailing 0-2, it sounds like a lot of options are on the table.

For one, the defensive pairs could change. The pair of Kevin Klein, who had a great opening-round series, and rookie Roman Josi has gone minus-2 in each of the first two games. Meanwhile, the pair of veterans Francis Bouillon and Hal Gill went plus-2 each in Game 1 and even in Game 2. For the most part, Josi and Gill formed a pair after the Preds acquired Gill from Montreal in February, but after a good series against Detroit Trotz elected to keep Josi and Klein together. Gill did not play in the first round, owing to a lower-body injury, while Bouillon ranked among the leaders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a plus-5 rating after five games.


Klesla returns after taking puck in mouth

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After collecting six points in his first seven playoff games, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla's face as been a familiar one in the postseason.
But it's also been taking a lot of abuse over the last week.

Less than a week after the butt end of a stick hit him over the right eye in Chicago, Klesla took a puck in the chin during the first shift of Sunday's 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators. And, as he did against the Blackhawks, Klesla returned to the game in the second period wearing a full facemask to keep the team from finishing shorthanded.

The Coyotes lead the Western Conference Semifinal 2-0 and have a few days off before the series resumes in Nashville on Wednesday. Klesla can use the down time.


Pouliot, Schlemko crack Coyotes' lineup for Game 2

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Forward Marc-Antoine Pouliot and defenseman David Schlemko will replace Lauri Korpikoski and Michal Rozsival in the Phoenix Coyotes' lineup for Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series with the Nashville Predators.

Nashville has one change, with forward Colin Wilson making his 2012 postseason debut in place of Craig Smith.


Predators eager for another crack at Coyotes

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The way the Nashville Predators see it, once they knocked eight days of rust off their skates and found their legs in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, they began to dominate play and pushed the Phoenix Coyotes back onto their hind legs for the third period and most of the overtime.

It just wasn't enough to win the game.

The Predators outshot Phoenix 16-1 in the third period and put 25 shots on Mike Smith in the final 34 minutes of the game, but could do no better than pull even on Martin Erat's power play goal with 4:42 left in regulation. And while the Coyotes had only seven shots after the second intermission, one was Ray Whitney's overtime game-winner that gave the Coyotes a 4-3 victory.\

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We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp