Glendale, AZ (Sports Network) - Monday was a good day for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Just a few hours after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the league
has found a new owner for Phoenix, the team took a 2-1 win over the Nashville
Predators to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in
Martin Hanzal and Derek Morris each scored a goal while Mike Smith stopped 32
shots as the Coyotes won this semfinal series in five games.
The Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise had won just two playoff series in its history,
and that included a six-game defeat of Chicago in this year's playoffs. The
Coyotes will next face the Kings, who defeated the top-seeded Canucks in the
first round and second-seeded Blues in the second round, in the conference
Colin Wilson scored late in the third while Pekka Rinne made 15 saves for the
Predators, who defeated the Red Wings in the first round to make the
semifinals for a second straight year, but have still never advanced to the
After a scoreless first period that saw Smith make 10 saves and Rinne turn
aside five, the Coyotes took a 1-0 lead at the 3:54 mark of the second.
After Shane Doan was stopped on a breakaway, Phoenix kept the pressure in the
Nashville end. Doan sent a pass from behind the left of the net and it found
its way to the right point where a shot from Morris made its way into the back
of the net for his first goal of the playoffs.
Later in the frame, after killing a pair of Nashville power plays, the Coyotes
made it a 2-0 game. Kyle Chipchura skated the puck to the bottom of the right
circle and held up there. He then sent the puck back to the right point and
Hanzal let loose with a wrister from the top of the circle for his third of
the playoffs with 4:51 to play in the second.
Smith turned away 12 shots in the second, but the Predators finally got to him
in the third when a David Legwand pass from the top of the right circle was
redirected past Smith with 5:59 to play.
That was it though, as Nashville was unable to stay alive in the series by
netting the equalizer and Smith nearly scored into the empty net before
Phoenix won a final faceoff in its end to win the series.
The tentative deal saw the Coyotes sold to a group led by former San Jose
Sharks CEO Greg Jamison. Bettman stated that the deal will be finalized
soon...Phoenix played the game without defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who was
suspended one game for boarding Matt Halischuk in Game 4...Smith has stopped
379-of-400 shots in the playoffs for a .948 save percentage and a 1.77 goals
against average...Nashville forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyin
were back in the lineup on Monday after being suspended for Game 3 for
violating team rules and being held out of the lineup for Game 4.
The Sports Network