No. 1 – May 7, 2012 – Phoenix 2, Nashville 1
Coyotes fans finally had something to cheer about.
The Phoenix Coyotes scored twice in the second period, Mike Smith stopped 32 of 33 shots, and the Desert Dogs advanced to the 2012 Western Conference final for the first (and only) time in their franchise history with a Game 5 victory over Nashville.
As the higher-seeded team that season, the Coyotes won the first two games in Glendale but only managed a split of the two games in Nashville. A win by the Predators in Game 5 would’ve sent the series back to Nashville with a chance for the Preds to even the series and end the Coyotes’ playoff run.
In front of the “whiteout” home crowd, captain Shane Doan shot wide on a breakaway but refused to abandon the forecheck. He regained the puck and feathered it from behind the net to center Antoine Vermette, and it eventually found its way to the point. Defenseman Derek Morris provided the bomb from the blueline, Mikkel Boedker the screen in front, and the Coyotes went up 1-0 early in the second period.
A few minutes later, Smith and the Coyotes had to withstand a Predators power play when Martin Hanzal was sent to the box for hooking. But the Coyotes didn’t break, and Hanzal redeemed himself by beating Preds goalie Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot from the circle late in the second period to give the Coyotes a 2-0 edge. And despite allowing a goal by Nashville’s Colin Wilson with six minutes left in the third period, the damage was done. When the horn sounded, the Coyotes were headed to the conference final for the first time in team history.
No. 2 – April 23, 2012 – Phoenix 4, Chicago 0
Franchise's first playoff series win in Arizona was a six-game thriller. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kyle Chipchura led the way. First five games needed OT.
No. 3 – October 10, 1996 – Phoenix 4, San Jose 1
Franchise legend Shane Doan scored en route to victory in the Coyotes’ first game in Phoenix after relocating from Winnipeg three months earlier.
GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF ALL-TIME
April 3, 2012 – Phoenix 2, Columbus 0
Smith made 54 saves and endured seven power plays to shut out the Blue Jackets as Phoenix inched closer to what became its most successful playoff run in franchise history. The Coyotes’ victory lifted them into seventh place in the Western Conference and they wound up clinching a playoff berth prior to their next game when Dallas lost to Nashville April 5.
Phoenix finished the 2011-12 regular season on a five-game winning streak, a run highlighted by Smith’s outstanding performance in a high-leverage game versus Columbus.