Predators, down 0-2 to Phoenix, searching for fix
The Nashville Predators better hope a return home helps them put their defense back together, or their second straight Western Conference semifinal will end much quicker than a year ago.
The Predators flew home Monday trailing Phoenix 0-2. A team so confident after ousting the Detroit Red Wings in just five games let the opener slip away in overtime in the desert, and then the Predators made mistake after mistake in losing Game 2 on Sunday night 5-3.
Coach Barry Trotz is considering lineup changes to get his Predators back on track. He needs something going into Game 3 on Wednesday.
"The positive things are our power play is hitting pretty good," Trotz said. "We're back home, where we can be very comfortable and get this thing back on the rails, which is really good. We know what we have to correct, it's just a matter of getting it done. We know the Coyotes are a good opponent, and we need to focus on what we need to do."
The Predators were sixth in the NHL at home in the regular season with a 26-10-5 record. They also outscored opponents 124-103 on home ice.
But the Coyotes are pretty comfortable in Nashville, too, having won three straight in Music City. They also have yet to lose on the road this postseason after taking all three games in Chicago in the first series. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said on a conference call Monday that the key for the Coyotes is their game doesn't change at home or on the road.
"We defend well. We rely on everybody to do the job for us," Tippett said.
"The other thing is that sometimes it's fun to go in to play in a hostile building. When that national anthem goes in Chicago, you get excited to play and I'm sure it's going to be the same in Nashville."
Perhaps the thing most galling to the Predators is that the Coyotes are beating them with their own style: Good goaltending, team defense and hard work.
"We have to get back to our identity a little bit," Trotz said.
The Predators can trace each of Phoenix's goals in Game 2 to mistakes by themselves, and the worst may have been when David Legwand threw the puck out into the slot from behind the net rather than tossing it into the corner. That led to a goal seconds later.
Center Mike Fisher said the Predators turned in an "unacceptable" effort in Game 2, thinking too much about offense and not protecting their own zone. But he pointed out the Predators won three straight in taking their first-round series against Detroit, which they can now do against Phoenix.
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