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The Desert Dog Blog: Notes and Quotes from Thursday's Practice

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

NASHVILLE – The Coyotes returned to Bridgestone Arena on Thursday morning to prepare for Game 4 vs. the Predators on Friday night.

Nashville, of course, beat Phoenix 2-0 in Game 3 on Wednesday to shave the Coyotes’ lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

“Obviously that wasn’t the outcome we were looking for, but we’re still in good position here (so) we have to have a short memory and try and get better from last night,” said goalie Mike Smith, who stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced in Game 3.

The Coyotes practiced for about 30 minutes on Thursday. After their on-ice workout, players worked out off the ice and/or watched video of Game 3 with the coaching staff.

Keith Yandle

“It was a good practice,” defenseman Keith Yandle said. “I thought we were loose but intense at the same time. We’ve got a good feeling going into tomorrow night, but I liked the way we practiced today and hopefully it carries over into tomorrow.”

The consensus among the Coyotes is that Game 3 is ancient history.

“The main focus is the next game,” center Antoine Vermette said. “It’s a process. It’s playoffs… You’ve got to control your mood - up and down - and you’ve got to focus for the next one.”

Forward Gilbert Brule agreed.

“I don’t think anyone’s upset or anything (about Game 3), we’re just looking forward to Game 4 and re-adjusting a little and putting in a better effort,” Brule said. “I think our power play can be a little tighter and get more shots and a little more pressure, and obviously we need to play the puck a little more down below their goal line.”

• Coyotes captain Shane Doan said although Phoenix still leads the series 2-1, losing both games at Nashville and letting the Preds even things up would be unacceptable.

“We’ve got to find a way to get a split,” Doan said. “We talked about coming in here and how hard they play at home and how good they are at home, and we’ve got to find a way to win the next one.”

• As expected, Smith told reporters he has no intention of changing his aggressive puck-playing style despite the fact that Nashville’s first goal in Game 3 came about because he misplayed the puck around the back of his net.

“It was probably a bad read on my part,” Smith said. “I’ve made that play 100 times this year and it’s worked out most times. Last night it was just probably a bad read. … It is what it is. I can’t change it now so I’m going to stay aggressive and keep playing my game.”

Photo by Getty Images

Head Coach Dave Tippett doesn’t want Smith to change the way he plays the puck.

“You watch how many times that deters the forecheck,” Tippett said. “He’s the best in the League at it, by far. We have to use that asset.”

• Reporters on Thursday asked Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz if he plans to reinstate suspended forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov for Game 4.

“Honestly, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it,” Trotz said. “It’s going to have to be something that I have to think about. (Game 3) was late and I came in this morning and looked at parts of our game, but I haven’t really dissected the game fully; that’s what I’m going to do this afternoon, and we’ll make a decision as a group. I know it’s going to be very tough if I do anything. I thought everyone was pretty committed. So, I can’t give a definite decision right now because I don’t have that. The guys that were in got the job done and they played very hard. It would be very difficult for me to give you an exact lineup for tomorrow.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.

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