Ray Whitney's overtime-winner gave the Coyotes/Jets franchise its first ever second round win. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The NHL Playoff Recap gives you THN's take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there's the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn't get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
COYOTES/PREDATORS, GAME 1: COYOTES 4, PREDATORS 3 (OT) (COYOTES LEAD SERIES 1-0)
THN’s Take: The feel-good series gave hockey fans plenty to feel good about in Game 1 – especially those concerned about a swampy second round.
Nothing has gone by the book in these playoffs, so why wouldn’t Nashville, with its beloved coach Barry Trotz, and Phoenix, with its uncertain future, treat us to a mostly back-and-forth slugfest of offense? The first two periods were back-and-forth anyway.
Yes the Coyotes picked up another clutch overtime win, but they can’t be happy with being outshot 16-1 in the third and allowing yet another late tying goal. Phoenix was hit by a couple of these against Chicago as they sat back to protect the lead at the expense of a chance at an insurance goal. When they were playing into the offense, the Coyotes were in the lead on quality goals and ultimately won the game when they picked it up again in overtime. It would seem this push is something they’d want to sustain through regulation.
The question now is whether or not this flurry of a game was an anomaly or if it will be the standard for the series. On the one hand, both teams won their opening round series even though they were being out-chanced by their opponents most of the time. On the other, Phoenix clearly benefits every time they push forward and with the way Mike Smith has been playing behind them, they should be confident enough to do it.
Another thing to look for are net-front goals. Obviously the goalies will be targets to aggravate every time they freeze the puck, but they’re both big guys. As much as rush offense was a surprising storyline in this game, most of the chances were created off traffic in close.
1. Mike Smith – I don’t care if he let in three goals, he made a number of saves in the third that should have brought Nashville even much earlier. None of the goals he let in were even ones he should have had and he ended with 39 saves.
2. Patric Hornqvist – His presence in front of Smith will be a showdown to watch. He was a nuisance and finished with eight shots and two assists.
3. Mikkel Boedker – Great patience on his goal, Boedker’s speed really shines in a game like this. He didn’t slack defensively either, with a nice breakup on a Nashville rush in the third standing out.
The Black Hole: If you pull a flagrant embellishing act in overtime, you’ll end up here in my books any day. Sergei Kostitsyn did get clipped with a high stick, but was it necessary to go on one knee, wait for a whistle, throw off his gloves, take off his helmet and then skate back to the bench? He seemed fine enough to sit down and start yelling at the referee right away. The Flying Kostitsyn was out in embarrassing form.