Monday, May 7, 2012

Predators look to stay alive tonight in Phoenix

The Nashville Predators stare elimination straight in the face tonight as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Phoenix took a 3-1 series lead on Friday night when they got a 1-0 shutout victory over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn are expected to be back in the lineup for Game 5 tonight. Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were suspended by the team for Game 3 after violating a team rule. Barry Trotz also held them out of the lineup for Game 4 on Friday night as well.

Nashville's team defense in the first two games of the series wasn't good. However, they drastically improved in that area in Games 3 and 4 of the series. The Predators only allowed one goal in the two games in Nashville, but were only able to come away with one win.

Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith was sensational in Game 4 on Friday night and is perhaps the biggest reason that the Coyotes were able to walk away with a 3-1 series lead. He will have to be sharp again tonight for the Coyotes. Nashville will be pulling out all the stops in order to try to avoid being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

There is no tomorrow for the Predators if they don't win tonight. Expect them to come out with their best effort of the series. If that effort is enough to extend this series to a Game 6, then anything can happen. The puck drops in Phoenix tonight at 9 p.m. Central time.