Found April 28, 2012 on
Fox Sports Arizona:
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coyotes coach Dave Tippett insists his clubs postseason formula is one he never drew up.
"Im not a big fan of the rope-a-dope thing, he said. Id like to see us compete harder and make better plays."
So would goalie Mike Smith. Hes stopped more rubber than a Goodyear quality-control tech. Then again, its hard to complain about the final product.
Maybe its a gift from the hockey gods after 15 years of playoff misery. Maybe Smith is just on one of those historic runs that alters all expected outcomes. Whatever the cause, the cardiac Coyotes found a method to manufacture another win Friday night when the naked eye saw no way.
With his team being outshot 25-6 through 35 minutes of the third period and overtime, center Martin Hanzal won a rare face-off in the Nashville end and chipped the puck over to a waiting Ray Whitney, and Whitney pushed it past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne for a 4-3 overtime win and a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
The way things were going for Marty with draws on that side, I had a slight hunch it was going to go more to their side than our side, Whitney said. I just went to the net and it was kind of a lucky bounce.
There were plenty in this game. Two of Nashvilles goals came off of fortunate bounces off the end boards, the first occurring when Smith got caught behind the net trying to stop Francis Bouillons dump-in as the puck caromed off an uneven partition and onto the stick of Brandon Yip at the doorstep for an easy tap-in.
But there is no getting around the fact that the Coyotes enjoyed the lions share of good fortune on Friday. This was a game they had no business winning. They were dominated more in the final two periods than they were in those memorable first two periods of Game 6 of their previous series in Chicago.
The Predators had the puck on their sticks for endless stretches, making it a moral victory when the Coyotes managed to ice it or chip it out of the zone. And Nashville peppered Smith with the types of shots Phoenix doesnt want to give up.
When I look at it, we probably had about 30 chances, Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
In the third period and overtime, he was under siege, Tippett added of Smith.
And yet, just like in that Chicago game, the Coyotes kept forging leads, kept the Predators from ever gaining the upper hand.
We played more time in our end than wed like, but once again, the resilient Coyotes found a way to win, Smith said.
This in spite of a troubling recent trend of blown leads. The Coyotes were 33-1 when leading after two periods in the regular season, but theyve already blown four third-period leads in this postseason part of the reason theyve played six overtimes in seven postseason games -- and nobody seems to know why its happening.
"Buddy, if I knew, we wouldnt do that," Whitney said, "so I cant help you out there. Youre not going to win many games sitting back like that. We just havent been responding very well when the momentums going one way. We havent been able to turn that.
At some point, thats going to matter ... right? At some point, this turtle method of attack has to come back to bite them ... doesnt it?
Skill and compete are imperative in this game, especially at this level in the playoffs, and our skill and compete in the third period was nonexistent, Tippett said. We were fortunate to get the first one under our belt, but if we expect to win this series, were going to have to be far better than that.
At this point, maybe the Coyotes should just start with baby steps.
Im fine with winning in regulation, Smith said.
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