Coyotes Provide Bonus Hockey in 4-3 Win Over Nashville


After seeing their success with overtime hockey in round 1, the Coyotes decided to let Nashville into the game to give the fans their monies worth. It took a trick deflection off the glass to allow Brandon Yip to get a goal and Mike Smith to lift his arm so the puck could slide underneath to keep Nashville close. The Preds did earn a goal after the Coyotes got caught puck watching in front of Smitty and allowed Martin Erat to pounce on a rebound for their legitimate goal of the night.

Before we get too much into the game, we have to talk about the atmosphere. NBS Sports had the telecast. They opened with some beautiful shots of Westgate Plaza. framed the backdrop with the Whiteout Banner hung over the front entrance, shots of the water features in the plaza bathed in beautiful Arizona sunshine. If you are on the East coast and enjoying the 39 degrees and grey sky, well, there are homes here for sale. Next, they went inside the arena. The placed was packed, and packed with Coyote fans. Waving white pompoms and white towels. Whiteout t-shirts for the second round have a red outlined Coyote image and white replica jerseys. It was hard to spot a Predator jersey not in the visitor bench. And that is a good thing. It is about time the Coyotes fans didn’t have to compete with the nomadic fan base of a Detroit or Chicago. You know, one of those places it is good to leave and move away from. Derek Morris talked about playing in front of a crowd that is 90-95% Coyote supporting. No offense to the Birdens, but the honeymoon is over. It’s playoff time. Seeing the high camera shots of a full building rallying around and showering the Coyotes with love and support is a beautiful thing.

See, we love our Coyotes. We want to financially invest in them. Buy tickets, buy the gear. But it is hard to impossible for us to financially invest FULLY unless we can emotionally invest. I think now the fans realize this is our last best hope. The trickle of news about Greg Jamison having funding for the team. The City of Glendale having a vote of support for the team remaining here. The NHL working as hard as they have the last three years to keep the team here. It is our time. It is this team’s time. It is Shane Doan’s time.

The Coyotes were led by playoff star Mikkel Boedker and Rusty Klesla for even strength goals. Radim Vrbata kicked off round 2 scoring when he buried a power play goal at 7:23 of the first period thanks to Lauri Korpikoski turning on the jets and forcing Nashville to take a penalty. The power play had struggled against Chicago and their aggressive forwards, but not tonight. The Coyotes showed good puck movement as they moved it around before it ended up on the stick of Vrbata. Taking his time, he picked his spot and sniped some top cheddar. What made the play was Hanzal placing his huge body in front of Rinna and the Coyotes moving their positions as well as the puck. It seemed the coaches took the Blackhawks power play strategy and put it into action. It was the most the team had moved in several games.

Yip got  his gift seven minutes later. The assists were from Bouillon and Craig Smith, but Corning Glass Works should get some credit. It was a crazy carom off the glass as Smitty left the crease to play the puck off the glass behind him, leaving Yip all alone with the puck and nothing but wide open ice.

Second period saw Klesla show why hard work and never giving up on a play produces results. Pinching to keep the play alive, Klesla ended up with the puck and moving toward the goal. He saw the passing lane open and slide the puck toward the low slot. At that moment, a Pred player hit the ice to block the pass. The puck came right back to Klesla who was in perfect shooting position and made it count. It was one of those crazy bounces that Coach Tippett called puck luck. Being at the right place and ready to shoot gave Klesla the goal and the Yotes the lead. Kostitsyn countered to keep the score tied at 2. An amazing play then ensued. Vermette chipped the puck to himself off the boards to enter the offensive zone, got the puck and backhanded it to the goal. Rinna pushed to the left goal post to square up for the shot.  The puck hit the skate of Shea Weber and went right onto the blade of Ray Whitney in the left wing position. In an instant that puck was lifted toward the goal. Pekka, doing his best Mike Smith impersonation, got the blocker on the puck. The entire section behind Rinna was up as they thought the Wizard had put one in. That was the Nashville save of the night.

Boedker’s goal started in the Phoenix end. Shane dug it out along the board at the goal line. He shoved it behind the goal as Rusty Klesla stepped into move the puck. He looked up and saw he was going to eat a check by Legwand. Klesla kept his head up and made the play, moving the puck further along the board and into a safe area where Vermette looked over his shoulder and steered the puck right into the path of an up ice skating Boedker. Bods picked it and and do his thing. 3-2 Coyotes. For this play to happen, it took Shane backchecking, Klesla taking a hit but still doing his job, Vermette having his head on a swivel and knowing Boedker would go it he could get the puck to him, and Shane releasing from his man and being the wingman. Shane forced the Nashville D to  take away the pass (proper play by Nashville). Boedker didn’t force the puck to Jesus, he took care of business, going over the blocker. By moving the puck so quickly and efficiently, Phoenix generated a 2-1 situation with Klein being stuck as the lone Predator. Boedker got back to the bench to be congratulated by Phoenix equipment manager Tony Silva.

Nashville scored toward the end of the third period after the Coyotes went away from what was working for them. Without the glass partion and Smith lifting his arm, it should have been a comfortable 3-1 lead. Nashville tied it up as the Coyotes did the turtle. They stopped the aggressive forecheck and went to a chip it deep and let the Preds go 200 feet. Overtime started and the Coyotes felt right at home. It was an offensive zone faceoff. Tip put out the Prime Line. Hanzal took the face off against Mike Fisher and pushed the puck forward and then shoveled it toward Whitney. Whitney, in a post game interview, said he saw Hanzal’s body language and knew he was going forward versus drawing it back for a shot from the point. The Wizard got the puck on his stick and shot it instantly. The puck tickled the twine before Rinne could move to his right. Game Over. The Coyotes have done it again.