The first semifinal series of the 2012 NHL playoffs starts Friday evening in the desert with Game 1 between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators. The Coyotes are coming off a thrilling first-round win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Phoenix was paced by dominant goaltending from Mike Smith, who shut out the 'Hawks in the series-clinching Game 6. It was the first playoff series win for the Coyotes franchise since moving to the Phoenix area, so the crowd will certainly be in a frenzy for Game 1 on Friday.
The Predators cruised in their first-round series, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings in five games. Nashville has not played in a week and will be sending one of the best defenses in the league out in hostile territory against the Coyotes. Their goaltedner, Pekka Rinne, heads into the series as a Vezina Trophy finalist. Between Rinne and Smith, this could certainly be a low-scoring semifinals.
No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes at No. 4 Nashville Predators
9 p.m. ET -- Game 1, Western Conference Semifinals | Series tied, 0-0
National TV: NBC Sports Network and TSN
For more news and analysis on the Phoenix Coyotes, visit Five For Howling. For all your Predators news and notes, visit On The Forecheck. Follow along at SB Nation's NHL hub for analysis of each series throughout the playoffs.