Found April 28, 2012 on
Fox Sports Arizona:
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Coyotes probably should have skated off the ice Friday night down a game to open the Western Conference semifinals. They probably shouldn't have even had the chance to win in overtime.
But they did, and it was all thanks to -- who else? -- goaltender Mike Smith.
As usual, Smith did all the heavy lifting in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, withstanding a tireless assault from the Predators in a 4-3 overtime win for the Coyotes.
Phoenix once again surrendered a lead in the third period as Nashville cranked up its attack. Afterward, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett lambasted his team's effort in the third period and overtime, a stretch in which his team was outshot 25-7, including 16-1 in the third period.
"The third period, they cranked their game up and we didn't respond," Tippett said. "Third (period) and overtime, (Smith) was under siege, and he hung in there and played very well. He did a heck of a job for us."
To translate: Smith bailed the Coyotes out of a game they looked at times almost certain to lose. Coyotes forward Ray Whitney, who scored the game winner in overtime, made that a bit clearer.
"It was one of those nights where we relied heavily on Mike Smith," Whitney said. "He was the difference for us tonight. The last half of the game, we were too dependent on him, but we'll certainly take the win."
Smith's performance wasn't anywhere near as pretty as his spectacular shutout in the Coyotes' series-clinching win in Game 6 in Chicago on Monday, but it was undoubtedly the equalizer for a team that was outplayed for the final 35 minutes Friday.
The first Nashville goal could hardly be held against Smith. Nashville defenseman Francis Bouillon shot the puck into the zone around the boards, and as Smith skated behind his net in anticipation, the puck took an odd bounce off the glass, giving Brandon Yip an empty-net goal on a platter.
Some might criticize Smith for wandering out of the net at all, but Tippett firmly defended the move.
"I've said it a lot of times before: The amount of times he plays it and it helps us far outweigh the odd time you get a bad break," Tippett said. "That's a huge strength of his. Sometimes that happens."
Said Smith, tongue in cheek: "I wasn't very happy about it. I'll have to talk to the guy that put the rink together."
The next goal was a bit of a tough break too, as Smith made a great save from in close on what looked like an easy goal only to have Predators forward Andrei Kostitsyn knock in the rebound.
Smith took the blame for the rebound goal late in the third period that forced the team's sixth overtime game this postseason. But with as many shots as Nashville took in the period -- 16 of their 42 -- one was bound to go in.
"I just battled to try to make saves for the boys," Smith said. "We didn't play our best hockey in the third, and they came at us pretty hard."
The pressure Smith withstood in those final two periods was more than anything he saw in the first round. The Blackhawks' elite forwards made life hard for Smith, but they never put together a stretch like Nashville did Friday. Without his effort, the Coyotes might have been the ones fighting to stay alive in the final five minutes of regulation.
"He's certainly the reason we were still in it at that point," Whitney said. "He's the main reason we're here, but we'll try to take a little pressure off him next game."
If the Coyotes want to take a 2-0 series lead to Nashville, they will probably have to go beyond "try" on Sunday. Smith has been phenomenal throughout the playoffs, but the Coyotes know they cant keep leaning on his heroics to be the difference, particularly against a highly skilled team such as Nashville.
Then again, maybe Smith prefers it that way.
"That's what I'm there for -- to bail the boys out and just try to keep the team in the game as long as I can," Smith said. "Tonight was long enough."
BEST OF MAXIM
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.
Mike Smith, Coyotes open second round with Game 1 vs. Preds.
The Predators once again scored three goals on Mike Smith. Once again, it was not enough.Uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns proved costly in the Predators’ 5-3 loss tonight in Phoenix in Game Two. Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata led the way for the Coyotes, each tallying two points, as they took a 2-0 series lead with the win.The game started very similarly to Game One. The...
One team has a goalie who plays the crease like a spider in a web, multiple players who can score and a hard-hitting, defense-first mentality.
The other team ... well, it's pretty much the same thing.
After bogging down two of the NHL's most skilled teams in the opening round, the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes face off in what will be a two-of-a-kind Western Conference...
The Nashville Predators bogged down Detroit in the first round and the Phoenix Coyotes did the same to Chicago.
Now, after beating two of the NHL's most skilled teams, they move on to face a similar-looking opponent: each other.
Nashville and Phoenix, two teams that rely on superb goaltending and contributions throughout the lineup, kick off what's expected to be a tight...
Another third-period lead squandered at home. Another barrage of shots on their overworked goaltender. The names and uniforms have changed -- Nashville is now on the other bench where Chicago once was -- but the storyline continues on. And in the end, the Phoenix Coyotes just find a way. And this time, "The Wizard" was in charge of the overtime magic. Outshot 16-1 in...
Unheralded. Capricious. Flabbergasted. Those might be the three words you come up with after searching the thesaurus for an hour in an attempt to describe the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From the downfall of the Bruins and Canucks to the surprise of the newly emerging teams that dismantled veteran cores with ease (re. Nashville & St. Louis...
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes had never advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 15 previous seasons in the Valley of the Sun. Maybe that's why fortune just keeps smiling on them this spring. Martin Hanzal won an offensive-zone faceoff and chipped the puck to a waiting Ray Whitney, who knocked in the game-winner to give the Coyotes a 4-3 overtime...
One thing that is as certain as the teams that will be moving on to the second round of the playoffs in the Western Conference, is that each team is lead by a suffocating defense and anchored by exceptional goal-tending. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, and Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott of the...
By Seth Lake
A full week after becoming the first team to advance to the Conference Semifinals round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 4th seeded Nashville Predators will open up their second round series on the road Friday night facing the 3rd seeded Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Will Hal Gill return to the Nashville lineup Friday night?
The Morning After:Yesterday’s results:Coyotes 4, Predators 3 (OT)RLD 3 stars of the night:1. Mike Smith, PHX (39 saves)2. Ray Whitney, PHX (1 goal)3. Francis Bouillon, NSH (2 assists)---Tonight’s slate:Capitals @ Rangers, 3:00 ET, Game 1Kings @ Blues, 7:30, Game 1#7 Washington Capitals @ #1 New York RangersGame 1… 3:00 ET… TV: NBC, CBCSeason series: Tied 2-2Projected starting...
REASONS YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR THE COYOTES FOR THE REST OF THE POSTSEASON
1. Ray Whitney
Ray Whitney is the kind of guy who plays his balls off.
He is also nearing 40 and continues to be an extremely prolific scorer on a team that would never be considered "high octane."
He is also kind of adorable. But w/e.
If there's any player nearing retirement age who deserves...