Just as it seemed the Nashville Predators had clawed their way back into their best of seven series with the Phoenix Coyotes by taking game three on home ice, the Coyotes snuck out of town with 1-0 win in game four and a 3-1 series lead. Phoenix has a chance to end the series in the desert Monday night. Nashville, who cam into the playoffs considered a favorite to make a run at the Cup, now have to win three straight or their season will end in round two for the second straight season.
So what do the Preds need to do differently to get back in the series again? One thing they need to do is find a way to break the momentum of Mike Smith. In game three, the Preds only win in the series they scored two goals just 1:06 apart before the midway point of the opening frame and not again. In game four, Smith turned aside all 25 shots he faced to shut out Nashville. After an unexpectedly high total of 15 goals in the first two games, as predicted before the series the goaltenders have taken over by swapping shutouts. Smith has been solid all season for Phoenix and when he gets rolling he is extremely hard to beat. This is bad news for Preds fans considering he has went 110:44 without surrendering a goal. Pekka Rinne, who has surrendered just one goal in his last two games will need to continue to stand on his head to counter the stellar play of Smith if the Preds are going to come back in the series.
Andrew is Blue Jackets correspondent and an up and coming writer planning on a long career in the hockey world. His eventual goal is to be a play by play broadcaster.