Game 4's are always so crucial. The Phoenix Coyotes can either take a commanding 3-1 lead Friday night at Bridgestone arena, or open the door for the Nashville Predators to come back and even up the series at 2-2.
"They came hard right off the bat and I think the first period they forced us into a few mistakes and they were opportunistic with it," forward Antoine Vermette said. "It was a tight game, we had some chances but it was something you should expect from them playing desperate in front of their fans. It's 2-1 now and we've got to move forward; we expect a tight series and tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to go home with a 3-1 lead which would be nice."
The situation is something the Coyotes are familiar with. In the Coyotes' first round matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks, they won Game 4 and eventually finished the Hawks off in six games.
Coach Dave Tippett knows the implications of Game 4, and wants his team to have an opportunity to closeout the series on home ice.
"Every game is one of those games that can control your destiny. We got the two at home, we've given the one up and now we've got to look for a split. If we can get that win, you're going home with a chance to close out the series."
The Predators got back to their defensive style in Game 3 and were carried by defenseman Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The duo logged nearly 60 minutes of ice time combined during the teams 2-0 win Wednesday.
"We gotten a lot back to our character and our identity. We're a lot closer but I think we still need to get better, have tighter gaps, and shut their speed down," Weber told the media Thursday.
Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov, two players the Predators added late in the season to bolster their offense, stole the headlines before Game 3. It was revealed that the duo violated unspecific team rules and would have to serve one-game, team mandated suspensions, with further discipline possible.
The team won for the first time in the series during their absence, and coach Trotz was then faced to make the tough decision to stay with the lineup who won, or to bring the forwards back from suspension for Game 4.
It was announced at the Friday morning skate that the two soviet-born players would remain on the sideline for Game 4.
"They're ready and will do whatever it takes to get back in, if it means having to sit this game or the next game or whatever, as long as we're winning they're OK," Trotz said.
Radulov is the Predators' top scorer in the postseason with six points, Kostitsyn has three goals, tied for the team lead.
Radulov continues to support his teammates though.
"The team played well. Pekks [Pekka Rinne] played really good. Guys defensively battled hard. It was nice to watch. They really showed the team effort. It's really good to be back in the series and [I'm] just looking forward to the next game."
The puck drops at 4:30 p.m. PST Friday in Nashville, and can be see nationally on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).