Originally posted on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 4/29/12

Radulov was unable to register a shot on goal on Friday night.

Heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday night, Nashville finds itself in an unfamiliar spot this postseason, trailing a series. The Predators will try to even the series at 1-1 at Jobing.com Arena at 7 pm CDT.

During the week the team had off, the Predators maintained that they would not allow the rest to distract from the game once the series got started. However, as Game 1 got underway on Friday night, it was apparent that the rest had affected the play of Nashville.

“I just think that we were all a bit rusty in the first part of the game. You can say what you want; I know our record when we’ve had big lengths of time between games. It is not really great,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said at practice on Saturday. “We’re better playing every second day, and we had good energy [in Game 1]. We had lots of juice, and you could see it on the ice. We’ve just got to look forward, we’re better than what we were yesterday, and I know we can be. We’ve just got to be determined to get the win tomorrow, and if we do that, then it goes back home for a best-of-five.”

For Nashville to even the series, the team will need to create more rebounds and get into the crease area of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith.

“They protect their house, or whatever you want to call it, their crease area. They block a lot of shots and clear out the second chances. So, we need to make sure we’re getting second chances, and when we do we’ve got to put them in,” Captain Shea Weber said. “There were some chances that we could’ve buried, but they made some good plays, and Smith made some good saves. So, there’s nothing we could be frustrated with, it’s in the past and we’ve got to move on.”

Moving forward, one player who will be looked upon to step up in Game 2 is Alexander Radulov. Only two players did not register a shot on goal during Game 1 for Nashville. Along with Radulov, Nick Spaling was the other player who went without a shot. Patric Hornqvist had a team-high 8 shots on goal.

Hornqvist had two assists on Friday, as did defenseman Francis Bouillon. The two assists brings Bouillon’s points total this postseason to three, all assists, matching his career-high achieved in both 2006 and 2008 with Montreal.

On Friday night, Hal Gill returned to the lineup, playing in his first game of the postseason for Nashville.

“We played pretty well [Friday]. We didn’t give much,” Bouillon said about Gill’s return, adding, “Right before the game me and [Gill] had a few conversations about the game and he told me to try to move forward, to try to jump into the play whenever I get a chance and he will stay back. So, he’s a great defensive defenseman, and I’m always confident with him when he’s back with me.”

Nashville’s lack of special-team offense, as well as its defensive play in round one made the team solid in terms of plus/minus ranking. Bouillon leads the NHL playoffs in plus/minus with a +8 rating after collecting two assists in Game 1. Three Nashville players rank in the NHL’s top 5, including David Legwand at +5 and Gabriel Bourque, who also maintains a +5 rating thus far in the postseason.

After Sunday’s contest, the Predators will return home to play Games 3 and 4 at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday and Friday of next week.


*Special thanks to the Phoenix Coyotes PR


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