Phoenix Coyotes Put in Five Goals Against Nashville Predators, Advance to 2-0 in Western Conference Semifinals

At this point, the Phoenix Coyotes' playoff run doesn't appear to be a fluke.

The Coyotes, fresh off their first playoff-series win since moving to Phoenix, are now up 2-0 in the team's second-round series against the Nashville Predators after a 5-3 win last night in Glendale.

In the team's first seven playoff games -- including six in the last series against the Chicago Blackhawks, and the one previous game against the Predators -- six of those games went to overtime.

Not this time. The Coyotes got it together on offense for last night's win, with those five goals against Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who's a finalist for the Vezina Trophy -- the annual award for the NHL's best goaltender.

Coyotes goalie Mike Smith played like he should have been one of the Vezina Trophy finalists -- which he probably should have been -- as he continued his phenomenal season, making 30 saves on 33 shot attempts.

Of course, the offensive play by the Coyotes didn't hurt.

Antoine Vermette got the scoring going early, dropping a puck in the net around eight minutes into the game off a slick pass from the opposite side of the goal from defenseman Keith Yandle.

Nashville responded toward the end of the period with a goal of its own.

Less than four minutes into the second period, though, the Coyotes went back on top.

Radim Vrbata took a pass from Ray Whitney and beat three Predators down the ice, but skated past the goal.

It worked out, because Vrbata slipped a pass between Rinne's legs from behind the goal, which Martin Hanzal was able to get into the net.

A little more than three minutes later, Vrbata got a goal of his own, landing a wristshot in the goal.

Whitney was put in the penalty box a few minutes later for slashing, and the Preds' Patric Hornqvist was able to tip in a goal off his knee with just seconds left on the power play to bring Nashville back within one.

That lasted for 30 seconds, until Taylor Pyatt took a rebound and blasted it into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead.

In the third period, Vrbata was called early for an interference penalty that was pretty unnecessary. Nashville took advantage of the power play again, bringing the game back within one.

And again, there was a Coyotes response.

Defenseman Derek Morris teed off on the puck, and captain Shane Doan was standing right in front of the goal with the face of his stick at the perfect angle to score on the deflection, and ice the game for the Coyotes.

Now up 2-0 against the Predators in the Western Conference semifinals, the teams head to Nashville for the next two games, where the Coyotes could close out the best-of-seven series if they play like they did last night.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley