Coyotes Vs. Predators, NHL Playoffs 2012 Game 2: Phoenix Wins 5-3, Takes 2-Game Series Lead

The Phoenix Coyotes have defended their home ice with two great performances in Arizona in the first two games of their Western Conference semifinal series, and perhaps just as importantly, they have figured out Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. The Coyotes offense was able to score and create shots in bunches for the second straight game, and they take a 2-0 lead to Nashville after pulling off a 5-3 victory in Game 2.

Phoenix was in control from start to finish, but they let Nashville keep the game close with one breakaway goals and two goals on the power play. Antoine Vermette scored the first goal of the game early in the first period, capitalizing on a great pass by Keith Yandle, but Nashville would tie the game before the intermission. On their only great scoring chance of the first period, Kevin Klein set up Andrei Kostitsyn on a two-on-one break, and he finished off the move to make it 1-1.

The Coyotes took the lead back with two goals in just over seven minutes to start the third period, with Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata scoring the goals. Phoenix appeared to be fully in control of the game until Ray Whitney was whistled for a penalty halfway through the second period, which led to a power play goal by Patric Hornqvist to cut the Coyotes' lead to 3-2. They retook a two-goal lead just 30 seconds later, thanks to Taylor Pyatt, who batted a rebound out of the air and into the back of the net for a goal.

Two penalties at the end of the second period set up a four-on-four, and that quickly became a four-on-three for Nashville when Vrbata was whistled for interference 22 seconds into the third period. Nashville capitalized and cut Phoenix's lead to one goal again through Ryan Suter, assisted by Shea Weber and Martin Erat.

Once again, Phoenix answered quickly. Shane Doan scored 3:36 into the third period, doing a great job to deflect a shot by Derek Morris to give Rinne very little chance to react and make a save.

With a two-goal lead in the third period, the Coyotes began to play a slightly more conservative style of hockey. They locked things up and went totally defensive with around six minutes remaining, and Nashville had no answer. They pulled Rinne and brought on a sixth skater with well over two minutes remaining, but couldn't find a goal to get back into the game.

For more on the two teams, check in with Predators blog On the Forecheck and Coyotes blog Five For Howling.

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