By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will attempt to take a 3-1 series lead over Nashville tonight when they play Game 4 vs. the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The puck drops at 4:30 pm. (Arizona time).
Phoenix, which leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, will be looking to rebound from a 2-0 loss to Nashville in Game 3 on Wednesday.
“We know it’s going to be another close, contested game,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “If you aren’t willing to play in a game like that, you’re not going to have a chance to win. The reality is, if you go back to the start of the series, everybody talked about the identity of both teams; how we want to play very similar. The first couple of games – the first game we weren’t as good and the second they weren’t as good. Game 3 was very competitive.”
He added, “I think it will end up being very competitive from here on in. It’s going to come down to who can make the plays at the right time, who’s going to get those breaks, who’s going to get the saves and hopefully our group will find enough of those to push us along.”
will again start in goal for the Coyotes as they look to shake off their first road defeat of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I don’t think anyone’s upset or anything (about Game 3), we’re just looking forward to Game 4 and re-adjusting a little and putting in a better effort,” Coyotes forward Gilbert Brule
said. “I think our power play can be a little tighter and get more shots and a little more pressure, and obviously we need to play the puck a little more down below their goal line.”
Phoenix’s top line of Ray Whitney
, Martin Hanzal
and Radim Vrbata
is leading the team offensively in this series. Each player has three points. So does center Antoine Vermette
is leading all NHL defensemen with seven points in the playoffs and ranks second in plus/minus at plus-7.
“I think we all know we’ve got to be better than we were (in Game 3),” Yandle said. “They brought the intensity and we’ve got to match it if not be better because especially here at home they’re a good team that gets the support from the crowd and we’ve got to try and take them out of it."
|Photo by Getty Images
Forward Lauri Korpikoski
has missed the past two games because of an undisclosed injury. After Friday's morning skate, Tippett said his lineup for Game 4 would likely be the same as Game 3, but he didn't rule out a return by Korpikoski.
Meanwhile, the Predators will be looking to even the series with another solid effort on home ice.
The big story surrounding the Preds is that Head Coach Barry Trotz has decided to keep forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov out of tonight’s lineup. Both players sat out Game 3 because they violated team rules while in Phoenix for Games 1 and 2. While their suspensions are over, they will be healthy scratches for Game 4.
Goalie Pekka Rinne will be back between the pipes after stopping all 32 shots he faced in Game 3. Rinne is expecting the Coyotes to play with vengeance tonight.
“It’s been a resilient team and I’m sure they’re going to bring everything they have,” Rinne said. “So we have to be ready and we have to build from Game 3; keep playing like that and feed off our great fans.”