The Nashville Predators will try to even the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals when they visit the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes for Game 2 at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes opened this series with a thrilling overtime victory in Game 1. Ray Whitney scored the winner at the 14:04 mark of the extra session to lift the Pacific Division champions to a 4-3 victory.
A right-circle faceoff saw Martin Hanzal win the draw and push it forward. He then swiped the puck over to the front where Whitney kicked it to his stick and poked it past Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne.
"I held for a moment and then thought I'd just go to the net," said Whitney about the goal. "Then Marty (Hanzal) got it over and I just stabbed it at the net. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but it worked."
Rostislav Klesla had a goal and an assist while Radim Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker each had a goal for the Coyotes, who defeated Chicago in six games in the opening round to win a playoff series for the first time since moving to Phoenix prior to the start of the 1996-97 season.
Mike Smith made 39 saves in the win for Phoenix, which is looking to advance to the conference finals for the first time in club history.
The fourth-seeded Predators are in the second round for the second time in their history and are also aiming for the franchise's first-ever trip to the conference finals.
Martin Erat, Brandon Yip and Andrei Kostitsyn all had goals for the Predators, who took down the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round. Rinne gave up the four goals on 24 shots.
"We know we're going to get better as this series goes on," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. "We have another level in our game. I thought the first half of this game we weren't as good as we could be and the second half I thought we played a lot better."
Nashville trailed Friday's game by a 3-2 score heading into the third period and tied the contest on Erat's power-play goal with 4:42 left in regulation.
"Skill and compete are imperative in this game, especially in the playoffs, and our skill and compete in the third period was non-existent," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "That is unacceptable and we're lucky to have won it in overtime."
Phoenix has yielded game-tying goals in the final five minutes of the third period in four games this postseason. The Coyotes have won three of those tests in overtime with the lone setback coming in Game 2 of the first-round series against Chicago.
The Predators were 22-16-3 as the guest in 2011-12 and was 2-0 at Detroit in the conference quarterfinals. Nashville would like to avoid being down 2-0 in the series when the matchup shifts to Music City for Games 3 and 4.
Nashville will host Game 3 of this series on Wednesday.
The Coyotes went 2-1-1 against Nashville during the season series and this is the first-ever postseason meeting between these clubs.