Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/30/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The mood in the Coyotes locker room after Friday's Game 1 win over the Predators was more of relief than excitement. They knew their effort was probably deserving of a loss. While they were more than happy to get a win, they weren't happy with how they played and used that as motivation heading into Sunday's Game 2 of the Western Conference Semfinals. What resulted was the best 60-minute effort they have put together this postseason. "We knew we could play better than we did last game," Tippett said Sunday. "We were happy to get the victory last game, but everybody to a man yesterday was very focused on how we were going to play better." On Friday, Tippett used phrases like "not good enough" and "fortunate to win." After an overpowering 5-3 win Sunday, it was "really good" and "solid throughout." The widespread feeling was that this one was truly earned. Plain and simple, the Coyotes responded. They stole a game from the better team Friday and knew they wouldn't get away with it again so they did something about it. "We really had a consorted push through our lineup, I didn't think there was any weak link," Tippett said. "You could see today that guys were determined to do what it took to win again." Added Coyotes captain Shane Doan: "We realized we didn't play as well as we wanted to and found a way to win (Friday). Tonight was more indicative of our team." It looked as though the Coyotes had flipped a switch Sunday, becoming a very different team than the one that was outshot 25-7 during the third period and overtime Friday. They were more aggressive offensively, more physical all around and more confident throughout. Perhaps a two-goal cushion heading into the final period had them playing to win, rather than playing to not lose. The Coyotes did not just respond to an unsatisfactory Game 1 effort Sunday, though, but also responded to each Nashville attempt to seize the game's momentum. When the Predators forward Patric Hornqvist netted a power play goal about midway through the second period to cut the Coyotes' lead to 3-2, the Coyotes responded back right away, getting a goal from forward Taylor Pyatt just 30 seconds later. When Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter needed just 53 seconds in the third period to put away a power play goal and erase the Coyotes two-goal advantage -- the Coyotes' first entering a third period in these playoffs -- the Coyotes again answered quickly. Less than three minutes later, Doan redirected a shot by Derek Morris and their lead was two again. "That was the difference tonight," Pyatt said. "We've had games in the past where we had leads going into the third and we kind of sat back too much, but tonight we were able to respond to two of their goals." Added Tippett: "When you've got all the energy in the building and they get a goal and it seems like the energy goes down a little bit, it's nice to respond in a hurry." Absent Sunday was the 'Here we go again' feeling that came with each third period of the Coyotes' six overtime games so far. The clear belief Sunday was that this game belonged to the Coyotes and they weren't about to let it slip away. "We talked about after last game that we need to be better and that we wouldn't mind winning in regulation," said forward Radim Vrbata, who scored his second goal of the postseason in the second period. "This is the way we want to play. This is how we think we will be successful." As much as the Coyotes responded, though, to their own effort from Game 1 and the Predators' individual efforts in Game 2, so too could the Predators respond with the series headed to their ice. The Coyotes know this, and they know they have to continue responding to every game, every play and every momentum swing. "They're going to respond and we're going to have to be better in the next game," Doan said. "You have to find ways to win that next one. That third game of a series is always huge."
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