Nashville desperately needed to get back into this series, as they came home being down 2-0 and having suspended Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn. Going into tonight the Coyotes had been undefeated on the road and had won four straight playoff games. Each team is very good when scoring first and tonight was no exception, with Nashville remaining undefeated when scoring first. This was the best game of the series for the Predators as right from the start they looked like the team we saw eliminate the Red Wings in five games. Nashville was outshot 32-26, which seems to be when they are at their best. Pekka Rinne definitely seems to be one of those goaltenders that thrive on getting shots often and early. The big question going into game four is what to do with the two players that sat out tonight, do you put them back in or stay with the lineup that won you the game.
Pekka Rinne Show Returns
Rinne got his first ever playoff shutout as he stopped all 32 shots he faced tonight, and a lot of his toughest saves coming in the third period as the Coyotes pushed as they tried to get back into the game. Rinne looked like the guy who was nominated for the Vezina Trophy this season, finally having gotten past whatever was going on in his mind the previous two games. It was in fact Mike Smith who looked out of sorts tonight, especially when he attempted to play the puck. Both goals scored on Smith came when he attempted to play the puck in some fashion; the first coming when he came way out of the net to backhand the puck and got caught out of position and David Legwand tapped it into an empty net, the second goal coming when he tried to poke check the puck and it slid along his stick into the net courtesy of Mike Fisher.
Power Play Woes Continue, for both Teams
Both team scored on the power play tonight and both teams had four opportunities each. Nashville has no power play goals at home in the playoffs going a total of 0/19 now at home. At one point Phoenix had gone 4 straight power plays with no shots at all. Phoenix even had 41 seconds of 5 on 3 near the end of the third period as they attempted to get back into it. Tonight was like a complete reversal of the last two games, with Nashville in complete control and Phoenix struggling to score. On the plus side Shea Weber was finally starting to hit the net more as the game went on, as he had been continuously missing the net prior to the latter half of the game.
1st: Pekka Rinne
2nd: David Legwand
3rd: Mike Fisher