Nashville Predators 3, Phoenix Coyotes 4 (OT) (PHO leads the series, 1-0)
Those Who Shined
1. Ray Whitney, Left Wing, Phoenix Coyotes
Even at age 39, Ray Whitney can really light up the scoreboard. During the regular season he led the Coyotes with 77 points and he added another three in the first round series with the Blackhawks. However, Friday night was the first time in the 2012 postseason that Whitney recorded two points in a game (a goal and an assist), and Phoenix desperately needed each of those to come out on top. His most important of the two points was obviously the overtime goal that sent the Coyotes into game two with the advantage and helped them keep control of home ice — at least for now. Overall, Whitney now has five points in five games with the Predators in the 2011-2012 season.
2. Mike Smith, Goaltender, Phoenix Coyotes
Admittedly, three goals allowed is not typically a strong day for a netminder in the NHL. But, on this day, Mike Smith was still excellent between the pipes. He made 39 saves on 42 shots from the Predators, which was nearly twice as many as his offensive attack threw at Pekka Rinne. Also, the Coyotes were outshot 25-7 in the third period and overtime combined, meaning that the majority of the action was played in front of Smith’s crease. Therefore, his ability to prevent Nashville from capturing the winning goal during their number of chances is worth mentioning as a top performance of the night.
3. Martin Erat, Right Wing, Nashville Predators
Despite losing game one, Nashville’s top scorer Matin Erat brought his best hockey to the ice when his team needed him most. Erat threw five shots on goal and converted the third period power play goal for the Predators, which was enough to send the contest to overtime. This tally should come as no surprise considering Nashville’s reputation as the top power play team in the league, along with the fact that 18 of Erat’s 58 regular season points came on the PP. The Predators will need a similar effort in game two as they hope to steal a contest before heading back to the Bridgestone Arena.