In what was probably the most boring game of the playoffs, in a year that included a series between New Jersey and Florida, the Phoenix Coyotes took a commanding lead in the series over the Nashville Predators. Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn remained out of the lineup tonight as the Predators decided not to change the lineup after a win in game three. The lone goal in the game came with just under six minutes left in the first period, courtesy of Coyotes Captain Shane Doan. It was tipped off of Roman Josi’s stick in front of Pekka Rinne and then went off Rinne’s blocker and trickled past him into the net. From that point on the game turned into the defensive battle that most thought this series would be. Nashville only had five shots in the entire first period, and ten in each of the other two periods. Neither team scored on the power play tonight, Nashville is now 0/26 on home ice in the playoffs.
Was Keeping Radulov and Kostitsyn out the Right Choice?
Now that Nashville lost the game and are down in the series 3-1, many people will be criticizing the choice to leave Radulov and Kostitsyn out of the lineup after their one game suspension. There is little doubt that they will be in game five, but I believe that leaving them out in this game was the right choice particularly after the dominant win in game three. What happened tonight was is that Phoenix correctly adjusted their game in every way that they needed to in order to win. The other thing that happened was that Nashville looked lazy tonight, and they couldn’t hit the net if they wanted to. They had over 15 missed shots in just the first two periods. It took Nashville over nine minutes in the second period to even get a shot, and yet they managed to double their shot total from the first period. Nashville pulled Pekka Rinne in the final minute of the game in an attempt to score a late goal to force overtime, not a bad decision really considering Mike Smith has let in a number of late third period goals in the playoffs this year.
Looking Ahead to Game Five
The Phoenix Coyotes really don’t need to change much in the way they played the game, aside from preparing for the likelihood that Radulov and Kostitsyn will be back in the lineup for the Predators. The Nashville Predators on the other hand have a lot that they need to change in the way they play. They have to have a better fore-check, and a better power play. They also have to be better defensively as they had a number of bad giveaways in tonight’s game and in both their other two losses. Game five isn’t until Monday so both teams will have a couple of days off to prepare.
1st: Mike Smith
2nd: Shane Doan
3rd: Colin Wilson