I will spare you the bravado, but Nashville Predators hockey is back! The Predators took on the Arizona Coyotes in the Western Conference “bubble” city of Edmonton for Game 1 of the best-of-five Stanley Cup Playoffs Qualifier Series.
Juuse Saros, dressed in all gold, led his team to the frozen sheet—as had been predicted from nearly the beginning of training camp. Pekka Rinne dressed in relief. With this start by Saros, Pekka Rinne’s streak of 89 consecutive playoff starts, which dates back to 2010, came to end. Darcy Kuemper started in net for the Coyotes. One notable absence for Arizona was Nick Schmaltz, who was the victim of a terrible head shot from Ryan Reaves during the Coyotes’ tune-up game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Here’s the starting line-up:
Lines for the #Preds -— Predators Game Bot (@PredsBot) August 2, 2020
Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Turris - Duchene
Grimaldi - Bonino - Smith
Jarnkrok - Sissons - Watson
Josi - Ellis
Ekholm - Fabbro
Tinordi - Weber
- Early power play opportunity for the Predators as Christian Fischer gets called for kneeing Kyle Turris.
- The Coyotes’ penalty kill continues to look impressive as they kill off the penalty. The Predators managed to get some nice looks, however.
- Arizona seems to be having some difficulty getting a clean zone entry.
- The Coyotes score the first goal. A shot from Oliver Ekman-Larsson hits Kyle Turris’s skate, then bounces off Matt Duchene and over Saros’s shoulder and into the goal. One of the stranger goals I’ve seen. Either way, Arizona is up 1-0.
- Quick interference call against Jarred Tinordi put the Coyotes on the power play.
- The Predators kill off the penalty as the clog up the middle.
- Aaaaaand, the Coyotes go up 2-0 as a barrage of shots in front of the net ends as a rebound that gets popped back in by Christian Dvorak.
- Things get a little chippy as Ekman-Larsson helps Colton Sissons into Kuemper. A bit of a scuffle ensues.
- The Predators aren’t doing anything offensively and now Matt Duchene is headed to the penalty box for “retaliating” after he took a hit.
- Clayton Keller scores the Coyotes’ third goal of the period and puts the Coyotes up 3-0. Gonna get ugly.
- The Coyotes are now having a very easy time entering the zone and taking shots.
- The teams go to 4-on-4 as Jason Demers locks up Johansen and Johansen cross-checks him in retaliation.
- Roman Josi draws a hold from Phil Kessel and it’s now 4-on-3.
- In the waning seconds of the first period, Filip Forsberg take a shot at the net and finds twine as Kuemper’s glove redirects the puck off of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s leg and into the net.
- The period ends with the Predators trailing 3-1. Perhaps the team can ride the emotional ending of the period and take the momentum into the second period.
- The second period is underway. Let’s see which team comes out of the locker room.
- Rocco Grimaldi heads to the penalty box for hooking and the Coyotes head back to the power play.
- The Predators’ penalty kill is nice and aggressive and has saved a couple of goals that would have made this game really ugly. The penalty has expired.
- Dante Fabbro puts the puck out of play for a delay of game penalty and gives the Coyotes another shot at the power play. This is not the opportunity the Coyotes need. However, the penalty has been killed.
- After a nice offensive cycle by the Predators, Mikael Granlund gets the chance to sit in the penalty box and, once again, the Coyotes are headed to the power play. This is not where you want to keep testing your luck because eventually, the Coyotes are going to score on the power play again.
- Great short-handed chance for the Predators, but it was fruitless.
- Hey, Jarred Tinordi stopped an ugly chance on the penalty kill. Nice. Yet, again, the penalty has been killed off. They can’t keep doing this.
- Ugly little move as Jakob Chychrun interferes with Rocco Grimaldi, sending him into the goal post and the Predators to the power play. They really need to make the most of this chance.
- Wow. Michael Grabner takes advantage of a sloppy pass by Filip Forsberg, gains possession of the puck, and speeds down the ice to score against Juuse Saros, putting the Coyotes up 4-1. Not what I meant by making the most of it.
- The period, mercifully, ends.
- 30 seconds into the third, Ryan Ellis take a one-timer and the puck bounces off of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s skate and finds the net. The Predators are within 2 at 4-2. Good way to start the period.
- Inspired play after the goal. Saros has had to make some saves, but the Predators are coming back down and challenging. Just need some shots to fall their way.
- Ryan Johansen had a great chance in front of Kuemper. Didn’t happen, but it was exciting for a minute there.
- The Coyotes get caught in a bad line change and wind up with too many men on the ice. The Predators head to the power play...the last one wound up with Grabner’s SHG...hopefully they can avoid that this time.
- FILIP FORSBERG WITH A BEAUTY FROM THE TOP OF THE LEFT CIRCLE! The Predators are down by 1 with 11 minutes to go.
- The Predators are headed back to the power play as Derek Stepan heads to the penalty box for tripping.
- Great stop by Johansen on what would have been another ugly breakaway. The power play ends without a goal for either team.
- The Predators head to the penalty kill. Bonino to the box for tripping.
- Lots of clears, Saros with a big stop, Tinordi pastes a guy to the boards, and some aggressive forechecking kills the penalty.
- A little more than two minutes left. The Predators need to score.
- Saros is getting ready to head off the ice.
- Predators are dumping the puck for some reason.
- Saros on the bench.
- Time expires and the Predators fall short. 4-3 Coyotes.
Golden Heroes of the Afternoon
3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson — scored a goal for his own team and assisted on some of the Predators’ goals as well.
2. Ryan Ellis — nice goal, nicer beard.
1. Filip Forsberg — single-handedly tried to carry the entire team on his back. Also high-quality mustache.
FINAL: #Preds 3, #Yotes 4— Bryan Bastin (@projpatsummitt) August 2, 2020
A complete turnaround in the 3rd period almost led the Predators to an overtime. The 5 on 5 play was commendable, and only allowing 1 goal on the PK (and one on the PP) was better than I thought they'd do. @OnTheForecheck @Five4Howling pic.twitter.com/Y1xOP32dyr