GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Antoine Vermette has five, yes five, goals in eight Phoenix Coyotes playoff games, and the eighth one isn't over yet.
Vermette redirected a pass from teammate Keith Yandle into the net at 8:32 of the first period, and the goal put the Coyotes up 1-0 in Game 2 of the NHL Western Conference semifinals against the Nashville Predators Sunday at Jobing.com Arena.
There was an energy, a more physical presence to the Coyotes to start the game. They were delivering the shots, not taking them, and it seemed like they knew they had to give hard-working goaltender Mike Smith somewhat of a break from all the shots he had to face in Game 1.
Not that Smith wasn't busy. He did make one very impressive stop of a wrist from directly in front of him. Seconds later, the Predators' Brandon Yip was called for roughing and the Coyotes got a power play, but couldn't convert.
Regarding the hitting, Gilbert Brule rocked Nashville's Francis Bouillon at the 5:15 mark of the period. You might say that Brule turned Bouillon into bouillon. See definition here.
The Predators tied at 17:13 of the period, Kevin Klein managing to get off a pass to a streaking Andrei Kostitsyn coming down the middle toward Smith. Smith had no defensive help and got beat with the shot.
The Coyotes actually lead in shots so far, 12-9. But this game is shaping up to be another close one. Well, at least the Coyotes are tested in that area. On to Period 2.
Rostislav Klesla has yet to return for Phoenix. He took a puck to the face 33 seconds into the game and needed some help skating off the ice and into the locker room.