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Nashville Predators 4, Arizona Coyotes 2: Scoring Depth, Saros Prove Crucial in Game Two Win

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The score sometimes reflects the quality of the game. Today’s scoreline does not.

Arizona Coyotes v Nashville Predators Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

After a sloppy performance in Game 1 of their play-in round against the Arizona Coyotes, the Nashville Predators needed a spark of urgency; the five-game format of the series meant that coming out of the gate with two consecutive losses would provide a near certainty of elimination. With the Coyotes opting to roll out the same lines as game one, here are the Nashville lines for today's game.

With only real storyline here being that Juuse Saros will be getting his second start of the postseason, expect Pekka Rinne to be back in net for the second half of the back-to-back on Wednesday for a crucial Game 3. However, that game would only be a formality unless our boys in gold could find a way to stay out of the penalty box and win today in Game 2.

Besides a mind-numbing penalty on Filip Forsberg just seconds into the game, the first period started just how Nashville drew it up in the locker room: Nick Bonino got on the board just after a power play, and Ryan Johansen followed it up minutes later with a goal of his own. Both goals were the player’s first of their respective 2020 postseasons, yet both seemed to be the result of miscues from Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Nashville also finished the period with only five shots, so one would think that more firepower will be needed in the coming periods. Regardless, Nashville took what they could get, and kept their own net secure as Juuse Saros kept a clean sheet through 20 minutes to finish the period with a 2-0 Predators lead.

The second period was more of the same for Nashville, as Calle Järnkrok extended the lead to three for the Predators just six minutes into the game. The air seemed to leave the Arizona bench after the goal (think Corey Perry after Game 6 in 2017), and Nashville began to dominate the play for the rest of the period. Arizona occasionally got a chance here or there, but Saros had a relatively easy go of it and kept Arizona off the scoreboard. Nashville doubled their shots from the first period (five to ten), and entered the final 20 minutes with a three-goal lead.

Nashville just needed to keep Arizona on their heels to ensure a Predators victory in the third period, and, until the last minute, the boys in gold did exactly that. On the offensive side, the Predators kept the pressure on Kuemper, not letting him breathe as the minutes wound down in the second game of the series.

Later on in the period, Viktor Arvidsson blasted home a power play goal to put the final nail in Arizona’s burgundy-colored coffin—or so we thought. In the final minute of the game, the Predators fell asleep and allowed two late goals from Arizona, courtesy of Clayton Keller and Lawson Crouse. While these goals are not what you want before a crucial third game, they are irrelevant to this game. Nashville will enter Game 3 fresh off of a great performance for 59 minutes.

Observations

  • Filip, what the hell was that. Less than ten seconds in, and Forsberg is in the box on a tripping minor.
  • Successful penalty kill for Nashville, yet a successful penalty kill is still two minutes without any offensive pressure. Let’s hope that this penalty was just a fluke, and not a sign of nothing having been learned, eh?
  • Power play opportunity for Nashville; a goal here could set the tone of the game the same way Arizona set the tone early in yesterday’s game.
  • No goal on the power play, but Bonino slings the puck past Kuemper to put the Preds ahead early. That was important. 1-0 Nashville.
  • Juuuuuuice. Did you forget about game 1? Saros sure did.
  • Johansen gets a good bounce off of Darcy Kuemper and puts Nashville up two just halfway through the first. Don’t let up...put on more steam. 2-0 Nashville.
  • A digital “It’s all your fault” chant has erupted at Rogers Place. Sounds a bit weird, but I like where their heart is at.
  • Another penalty on the Preds. This time, on Josi. As much as I have harped on the penalties as a problem, that one was a bit cheap.
  • Preds kill another penalty kill, and Ellis gets into it with Taylor Hall. The result of their semi-comical bout is 4-on-4 for two minutes.
  • No goals on the 4-on-4, and that’ll do it for the first.
  • Tons of high-pace energy to start the second from both squads, despite no shots finding the back of the net.
  • Happy to see Ryan Ellis is apparently fine and well after his ABSOLUTE BLOODBATH of a fight with Hall.
  • Calle Järnkrok, another very important early period goal for Nashville. 3-0 Preds.
  • Either that goal gave Nashville all the confidence in the world, or it sucked the life out of Arizona. Either way, Preds have all the momentum and are dominating the puck.
  • Antti Raanta leaves the bench for Arizona. Curious, considering he was likely going to start tomorrow in the second leg of the back-to-back. The Coyotes’ twitter reported that he had been declared unfit to play.
  • Another penalty on Nashville but, before Arizona can get set up, Taylor Hall draws blood on Ellis and a power play for Arizona turns into 4-on-4 followed by a power play for Nashville.
  • No goals from either penalty, and that wraps up the second.
  • Neither team is able to get sustained offensive zone presence early in the third; considering the three-goal lead Nashville has, that isn’t the worst thing in the world.
  • Duchene nearly puts the Preds up by four on a breakaway. No dice, but Nashville is starting to get going on offense here in the third period.
  • Arizona tosses the puck over the boards, and Nashville will go on the power play late in the third. Huh, this is how it feels when the other team commits dumb penalties while trying to make a comeback! Pretty sweet.
  • R-VVVVVV! Arvidsson booms a nasty slap shot past Kuemper, and puts a nice bow on this game while notching his first goal of the postseason.
  • Uhhhhh what was that.
  • That will do it for Game 2. I wish they could have preserved the shutout for Juuse, but I will gladly take the win.

OTF Three Stars of the Game

  1. Nick Bonino – Opened the goal scoring with a huge early one, and played great throughout the game.
  2. Juuse Saros – Don’t pay attention to the score; Saros had a good game.
  3. Calle Järnkrok – Improbably, ended up having the GWG.

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