By Allan Muir
May 05, 2012

1. Shane Doan, Coyotes -- Dave Tippett didn't mention him by name, but when the coach praised the team's leadership in his post-game press conference, it was a clear nod to the play of his captain. Doan set the tone with his aggressive forechecking in the first, then created the game's only goal with a knockdown of hulking Hal Gill and a slick drive to the net. After that, he was the model of discipline, playing virtually flawless defense as the Coyotes clung to the thinnest of margins for 45 minutes before claiming their 1-0 victory.

2. Mike Smith, Coyotes -- Despite the perfect stat line, this wasn't one of those contests that Smith has made a habit of stealing during these playoffs. While Pekka Rinne was making game-saving stops at the other end, Smith was getting a stiff neck from snapping it to follow Nashville's best scoring chances as they went sailing high or wide. Still, he stood his ground, making the saves he had to make, especially late in the contest as Nashville repeatedly turned his crease into a frantic, but ultimately futile, dog pile. Tonight, that was good enough.

3. Dave Tippett, Coyotes -- Rather than pick a third player at random, let's give a nod to the man who orchestrated what was as true an example of a team win as you're going to see. There was a real chance tonight for Nashville to build on the momentum that carried them to victory in Game 3 and even up the series, but Tippett convinced his troops to execute a selfless all-guts, no-glory plan to perfection. It frustrated the Preds and led to a 3-1 series lead that his Coyotes are unlikely to relinquish.

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