Entering Game 3 of their series against the Arizona Coyotes, the Nashville Predators were faced with the most pivotal game they had played yet. They were on the second leg of a back-to-back, and had just won in decisive fashion over their 11th seed adversaries. However, the next game would decide who would take a commanding 2-1 lead in a best of five series and force the other team to win two consecutive games to advance. Goaltender Juuse Saros got his second start in as many days, as did Arizona starter Darcy Kuemper. Here is the rest of the lineup for Nashville in game three:
#Preds lineup in warmups:— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) August 5, 2020
Rinne#ARIvsNSH | #ForSmashville
More of the same for the Predators, while the Coyotes make some changes to try and light a spark on their team:
Switching things up. pic.twitter.com/NNCIcIIpvC— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) August 5, 2020
The first period was largely dominated by the team in gold. Nashville led Arizona in shots, 19-9, dominated in puck possession, and peppered Kuemper with high-quality scoring chances. In fact, the ‘Yotes did not earn their first shot on goal in the first five minutes of the game. However, that shot, at 5:09, happened to be a great tip from Christian Dvorak which put the Coyotes ahead in the only stat that matters: goals.
Nashville continued to put the pressure on Arizona the rest of the period, but Kuemper held strong and finished the period with a clean sheet. If the Predators were interested in winning this game, they would need to find a solution to the Kuemper conundrum.
After a lopsided first period in terms of shots, the second period acted as a slow burn. Both teams put a combined 14 shots on net—lower than Nashville’s first period shots alone—but don’t confuse the lack of shots with a lack of action. Both teams traded puck time more evenly, resulting in a suffocating, stress-inducing 20 minutes of hockey.
Eventually, Nashville managed to break through, thanks to a usual suspect. Viktor Arvidsson, having scored a goal the day before as well, blasted his second slap shot past Kuemper in this series to even the score at one. Neither team scored the rest of the period, as Saros and Kuemper both stood tall and set the stage for a decisive third period of hockey.
After a tight pair of periods to start the game, the last 20 minutes were expected to be tense, competitive, and down-to-the-wire. We did not receive that 20 minutes. What we did get was our beloved Predators falling apart in the biggest 20 minutes of their season so far. Although they were met with unluckiness as Kyle Turris’s goal was deemed offsides thanks to Matt Duchene, they failed to get anything else going the rest of the way. Conor Garland got the Coyotes ahead, and Taylor Hall sealed the deal. By the time Carl Söderberg got on the board with an empty-netter, any life the Preds still held onto had been long gone.
Looking to the future, Nashville now has to win both of their next two games to avoid being eliminated by a team that, without a global pandemic, would never have sniffed the playoffs. See you all on Friday.
- Disclaimer for the rest of the recap: I do not like the Kachina jerseys. The logo is cool enough, but the color scheme is just gross.
- JOFA seem to be firing on all cylinders early on here...more of this please.
- First shot for the Coyotes also results in the first goal for the ‘Yotes. Dvorak tips one in past Saros, and Nashville is down one. 0-1 Arizona.
- Early goal deficit after starting the period well... Where have we seen this before?
- Predators are more or less dominating this game through the first ten minutes. Kuemper is playing well, so they’ve just gotta keep pushing. One of these shots will find its way through.
- Credit where credit is due, though; Kuemper is playing out of his mind so far.
- That will do it for the first period. Surely, Kuemper will let one past him at some point, right??
- Lots of Coyote pressure early in the second.
- Heavy hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson from Watson. Ouch.
- Arvidsson sends home his second goal of the series, and this game is tied. 1-1.
- First penalty of the night, Arvy to the box. ‘Yotes on the power play.
- Another successful penalty kill for the Preds, something they have excelled at this postseason.
- No goals since Arvy’s bomb, but this is still some good hockey. Really tense, a few good scoring chances, and a healthy amount of physicality.
- That’s the end of the second. A tense third period awaits.
- KYLE TURRIS. FINALLY. Goes top shelf over Kuemper and puts the Preds ahead early.
- Just kidding. Duchene was offside, because of course he was.
- Still tied, but Nashville now goes on the power play. Rather large opportunity.
- Golden opportunity for Arvidsson on the PP, but he can’t find the net.
- Another scary chance for Arizona as they ring one off the post while being a man down.
- No luck on the man advantage, but there’s still plenty of time.
- As we get further into this period and the pressure ramps up, one would hope that the Preds’ experience in big games would help them rise above a young Coyotes team. We shall see.
- I guess not. Conor Garland puts the Coyotes ahead with roughly half a period to go. Well, Predators, let’s see how much you guys want it.
- Breakaway for Keller, but Saros comes up big. Still need a goal.
- Nashville fires one off the pipe. Still need a goal.
- Craig Smith gets sent to the box for two minutes. Still need a goal.
- Taylor Hall fires the puck past Saros, and the Coyotes are up two with less than five minutes to go.
- Arizona puts it in the empty net; that will do it for Game 3.
- A large scuffle breaks out late, Preds go on the power play with 87 seconds to go.
- Well, that period sucked. Onto game four.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Darcy Kuemper – I have to give credit to the guy who kept Arizona from going down a couple of goals in the first period. Played incredibly.
- Viktor Arvidsson – Scored the lone goal for Nashville, and was a contributor on an energetic JOFA line.
- Not Matt Duchene – You are getting paid more than most people make in their entire lifetime; stay onside.
Tweets of the Day
I swear, "Are qualifying-round statistics considered playoff statistics?" is the new "Is Juuse Saros exempt from the expansion draft?" https://t.co/gsBgVDIauk— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) August 5, 2020
New drinking game: take a drink every time they talk about Taylor hall and Ryan Ellis playing together in juniors— Rocco szn (1-1) (@rocco_szn) August 5, 2020