The Preds may well have played their best game of the series – and possibly the playoffs – posting a 33-17 advantage in shots on goal and 73-to-40 lead in shot attempts, while holding a massive edge in zone time, but still finding a way to lead hits 39-37. Still, the Coyotes took advantage of two transition sequences in the second period to claim a 2-0 lead and held on after Colin Wilson’s third period goal cut the lead in half.
Pekka Rinne allowed just three goals over the final three games of the series, but Nashville was unable to provide enough offense to support his efforts as the Preds were edged 1-0 and 2-1 in the final two games as the Coyotes closed out the series in Game 5.
Now on to the musings…
Counter attacks -- Nashville was victimized on two counter-attacks by the Coyotes in the second period for both of Phoenix's goals tonight. On the first, the Preds had a strong offensive shift when Weber's shot through a screen was blockered to the corner; Weber and Suter lost contain on the high forward and the Coyotes hit Shane Doan for a breakaway. Rinne made the initial save, but Phoenix beat Nashville to the rebound and scored on the regroup with traffic in front of Rinne. On the second, the Preds again had a strong offensive shift, but Legwand was dumped in the corner creating numbers through transition for the Coyotes. Phoenix hit the trail forward for the 2-0 lead.
No luck from the posts -- The Preds rang a pair of great scoring chances off the post in the second period. Josi came out of the penalty box and joined Radulov on a two-on-one 6:20 into the period; Josi's shot eluded Smith but dinged the post and then the puck hopped over Radulov's stick on the backdoor preventing an easy tap in. Legwand's drive was deflected with a diving desperation save by Smith and then the rebound back out the other side to Josi was blocked by the back-checking defenseman in the goal crease. On Nashville's next power-play -- with 9:01 left in the frame -- Weber teed up a shot from the center point which beat Smith to the glove side, but caught the post flush; the rebound attempt by Andrei Kostitsyn was pushed into Smith's pads low.
Special Teams – Nashville had four power-plays in the game, but were unable to generate offense from the man advantages. The Preds did get a two-on-one at the very start of their second PP – when Josi come out of the penalty box to turn a four-on-four to a power-play and did ring a shot off the post on their third power-play, but were unable to convert and unable to generate sustained momentum after any of the PPs.
1) PHX G Mike Smith – 32 saves; allowed just one goal over the final two games of the series
2) PHX D Derek Morris – 1 goal; 3 hits, 3 blocked shots; game’s opening goal; strong defensive play especially on the PK (4:05 shorthanded ice time)
3) NSH F David Legwand – 1 assist, +1 plus/minus; 6 hits, 2 blocked shots; great pass to create Nashville’s goal
THREE STARS OF THE SERIES:
1) PHX G Mike Smith - allowed just 1 goal over the final 2 games of the series, backstopping Phoenix to 1-0 and 2-1 wins to close out the series
2) NSH F Martin Erat - 1 goal, 1 assist; solid defensively and was dangerous with the puck on his stick throughout the series; 2nd star in Games 1 & 3; OT forcing goal in Game 1
3) PHX F Shane Doan - 2 goals, 2 assists, +4 plus/minus; GWG goal in 1-0 Game 4 win; assisted on game's opening goal in Game 5; assisted on GWG in Game 3