Coyotes and Predators expecting tight series

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By Stella Inger By Stella Inger

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Nashville Predators bogged down Detroit in the first round and the Phoenix Coyotes did the same to Chicago.

Now, after beating two of the NHL's most skilled teams, they move on to face a similar-looking opponent: each other.

Nashville and Phoenix, two teams that rely on superb goaltending and contributions throughout the lineup, kick off what's expected to be a tight series Friday night in the desert.

The Predators quickly dispatched the skill-heavy Red Wings behind goalie Pekka Rinne, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the second straight season.

Coyotes goalie Mike Smith proved he's a worthy No. 1, leading his team past the fleet Blackhawks into the second round for the first time in 25 years.
Don't expect many goals in this series.
Parity reigning in NHL playoffs
Parity has taken over the NHL playoffs.

Headed into Thursday night's pair of Game 7s, Boston, Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago were already out of the postseason.

Those powerhouse teams gone, the chase for the Stanley Cup is as open as it's been in years, with teams like Phoenix, Nashville and St. Louis still in the hunt. The playoffs have a new vibe this season and Lord Stanley's coveted cup could end up in a place like Nashville or Glendale, Ariz.

One of the biggest surprises is the Los Angeles Kings.

After squeaking into the playoffs, they took down the Western Conference's top-seeded team, knocking out the Vancouver Canucks in a surprisingly easy five games.