Coyotes 4, Predators 3: Mike Smith & faceoffs cost Nashville the opener

April 27, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; The referee drops the puck as Phoenix Coyotes center Daymond Langkow (22) and Nashville Predators center Nick Spaling (13) face off during the first period in game one of the 2012 Western Conference semifinals at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

When it came down to overtime, the oldest guy on the ice, Ray Whitney, won it for the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3. The Predators dominated the game from the second intermission on, overcoming a 3-2 deficit to tie the game and force overtime, but Mike Smith's 39 saves, and the overall Coyotes dominance on the faceoff circle, conspired to cost Nashville the game.

Follow after the jump for the video highlights and reaction...

Cue the video (might take 30-45 minutes post-game to work):

Your random observations:

  • As noted by Josh Cooper on Twitter, that penalty which led to the opening PP goal for Phoenix was Klein's first since October 29. That's a long stretch without getting caught like that.
  • The hockey gods smiled upon the Preds with Yip's equalizer later in the first. Mike Smith came out of his net quickly to play the puck (as he loves to do), so when the puck took a goofy bounce out of the corner, Smith didn't even have a chance.
  • The faceoff situation reminded me of Game 1 vs. Vancouver last year the way the Preds were dominated, especially early on.
  • Despite the articles earlier today about Mike Fisher taking a more offensive role in this series, he passed up golden shooting opportunities in the first and third period in order to make that dreaded "extra pass". That ain't gonna cut it, just shoot the puck and let that other guy crash for rebounds.
  • That "just shoot" mentality proved critical on the Preds' 3rd goal, the power play score by Martin Erat in the third period. Suter's probably the 5th shooting option on that first power play unit, but he fired from the point while Hornqvist drew the attention of the Coyotes defense in front, leaving the puck wide open for Marty to jump on it.
  • The third period saw the Preds thoroughly take advantage of a Coyotes team which appeared to go into a bit of a defensive shell, as Nashville out-shot Phoenix 16-1. That carried through into the overtime as well.
  • Pekka? You're no Mike Smith... please don't come out and play the puck so much, m'kay?
  • The Legwand-Radulov-Bourque line carried the play on so many shifts, they leave you feeling that the goals are due to come. The Gaustad trio also wreaked havoc whenever they got out there, I thought for sure they might cash in during the overtime.
  • Hal Gill played 18:02 and looked pretty capable out there.
  • The OT winner just showed how a mental lapse can lead so quickly to a goal against. Weber got suckered in to playing the puck, leaving Whitney all alone to bury the goal.
  • So what are the takeaways for Game Two on Sunday? Faceoffs have to be a priority, with the wingers bringing the intensity to win those 50/50 battles for the puck. My patience with SK74 is wearing awfully thin, too, for most of the game he was completely invisible out there.

Box Score - Game Summary - Event Summary - Corsi Numbers

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