Game in a Sentence:
Pekka Rinne came alive with the Predators down two men in front of their home crowd to get back within one of the Coyotes for the series.
- Apparently playing without your top forward is in vogue these days as one day after the Devils overcame the Flyers without Ilya Kovalchuk, the Predators bear down and take out the Coyotes without Alex Radulov or Andrei Kostitsyn.
- Jordin Tootoo injected the Predators with a physicality they seemed to be lacking earlier in the series. Tootoo managed to contribute physically without being a liability which has been a concern with him in the past. We’ll see if he can stick in the lineup.
- The Coyotes just seemed to have more trouble breaking down the Predators in front of their goal. Nashville was uncharacteristically disheveled in front of its own goal in the first two games and tightened it up tonight. They got plenty of shots on, but good chances were scarce.
- Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan were the catalysts in many ways for the Coyotes and generated the most offense. They combined for 10 shots on goal and both played roughly 20 minutes of hockey for Phoenix. That’s 1/3 of their shots on goal between two guys.
- Derek Morris has had a bit of a rough series. He’s constantly in the penalty box, he has turned the puck over a lot and looks really shaky. It’s pretty remarkable that he managed 16 minutes of ice time tonight after taking three minor penalties.
- David Legwand had his best game of the series and he is really an underrated contributor to this team. Throughout the playoffs, the Preds have gone as he has gone and good games for him likely mean wins.
- On that note, Mike Fished also looked better. He’ll need to keep the offense coming. I think this Predators team could win a championship, but they absolutely need more from him over the course of however many games they have left.
- Both goalies were exceptional. What else can you say?
- Mike Smith played a good game as expected. Obviously he turned the puck over and created the David Legwand goal which ended up being the game winner, but that isn’t exactly something you’d expect from him. Smith is one of the better puck handling goalies in the league – as has been typical of Dallas developed goaltender – and ideally for the Coyotes he won’t change the way he plays because of one error.
- Rinne was outstanding, simple as that. All series we had been wondering where the real Rinne was, the one that stole games from the Red Wings in round one and got Nashville to this point. Well here he is, and he earned his first playoff shutout as a result. Full value for the win and we’ll see if he can keep it rolling.
- I think the Predators take game two and we’re all square heading back to Phoenix. My .02.
My Three Stars:
1) Pekka Rinne
2) David Legwand
3) Mike Fisher