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YANDLE SHINES IN NHL PLAYOFFS DEBUT

Thursday, 04.15.2010 / 5:19 AM / Features
By Anthony Perez
GLENDALE – Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut a memorable one.

Yandle notched a goal and an assist to help Phoenix defeat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Jobing.com Arena on Wednesday night.

Keith Yandle
After the game, Yandle said he is relieved to have his first playoff game behind him.

“It was great,” Yandle said. “Obviously, it was good to win, but it was fun and it is good to have it behind me now and we can just play.”

Jitters always are a common occurrence in a dressing room just before a postseason game gets under way, and Yandle felt that he and his teammates handled them well. Martin Hanzal, Sami Lepisto, Zbynek Michalek, Lee Stempniak and Daniel Winnik also made their NHL playoff debuts on Wednesday.

“I think any time you’re playing in your first playoff game you’re going to have guys riding the emotion train,” Yandle said. “Guys were banging bodies, playing hard and you take a few penalties, but we have a pretty good penalty kill, so when guys do play hard like that, hopefully we can kill some (penalties).”

Derek Morris, who lets Yandle stay in a room in his home, assisted on Yandle’s goal in the first period, and Morris and Yandle teamed to assist Wojtek Wolski’s power-play goal that tied the score 2-2 in the second period.

“He’s a veteran defenseman, he’s a big presence back there and guys feed off of him,” Yandle said of his landlord. “He played a hell of a game and he’s a great big-time player.”

Yandle also complimented Shane Doan for his gritty play. Doan dished out nine hits in the game.

“Guys know when he’s out there when he’s playing like that,” Yandle said. “He’s one of the tougher guys in the NHL to play against. When he’s flying around and hitting everybody, guys are moving the puck quicker.”

Yandle said the electric atmosphere in the arena lived up to the hype that accompanied it.

“I think it was everything I expected and more,” Yandle said. “The fans were great. They’ve been great all season, and especially the last half of the season they’ve been great, selling out games. Hats off to them, they really brought it tonight.”

Yandle and his teammates will try to take a 2-0 series lead on Detroit in Game 2 on Friday at Jobing.com Arena.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to watch an interview with Yandle after Game 1.
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