The stakes for the Nashville Predators this afternoon were simple: win, or go home. Beat the Arizona Coyotes and live to fight another day, or fail to reach the round of 16 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which would likely result in the rebuilding—or at the very least reshuffling—of the core that has been together for so long. Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper had a fantastic Game 3, so if the Predators wanted to get their offense going and take this series the distance, the first step would be breaking down Kuemper.
Here are your lines for the Predators this afternoon:
After keeping the lines intact for the first three games, desperation finally results in swapping a few guys around; John Hynes moves the second and third lines, sending Kyle Turris to the third line and Nick Bonino up to the second in an effort to end the stagnation of the second line. Besides that, Juuse Saros continues his streak of playoff starts, his fourth game in six days. Here are the lines for the Coyotes:
If you watched the first period of Game 3, you already have a good gauge of how the first twenty went in Game 4. Just like before, Nashville came out hot: plenty of offensive-zone time, plenty of shots, and only a few moments where Saros had to show up big. Unfortunately, just like before, Arizona still found a way to get the puck past Saros on a nasty shot off the goalpost from Michael Grabner. Darcy Kuemper played great, and deserves all the credit in the world, but the Predators would need to figure out how to beat him if they wanted any shot of staying alive until game five.
The second period opened with an Arizona goal from Phil Kessel. His rocket of a shot put the Coyotes up two, and served as the “point of no return” for much of Predators twitter. However, our boys in gold refused to die just yet. Matt Duchene (of “why are you offside Matt Duchene” fame) finally broke out in this series, almost single-handedly shifting the momentum of this game by both drawing a penalty, and then scoring on the ensuing power play.
With the tides of the game sufficiently turned, Viktor Arvidsson kept it going with his third goal of the series, courtesy of a sweet setup from Ryan Ellis. Now that the game was tied, the pace of the game skyrocketed and both teams went into hyper-speed, trying their best to get the go-ahead goal heading into the third. Neither team was able to do so, so we entered the final period of regulation in a 2-2 deadlock with the fate of Nashville’s season on the line.
As the third period began, Arvidsson was noticeably absent from the bench, having left the game earlier after taking a shot to the chest. He would not return for the rest of the game, and the Predators’ play reflected that. Offense was harder to come by, and the Predators were unable to get any quality offensive-zone time once it counted. After Jordan Oesterle put the ‘Yotes up a goal early in the third, Nashville needed to respond. With a minute on the clock, Saros was pulled, and the offensive surge began.
Finally, after a flurry of shots and chances being lobbed at Kuemper, Filip Forsberg gave the city of Nashville the gift of hope. In the most clutch goal of the franchise’s history since Fisher’s overtime goal against the Sharks, 30 seconds away from the end of the season, Forsberg got a shot past Kuemper. And with that, we advanced to overtime.
With regulation ending in electrifying fashion, overtime ended on a rather mundane play. Roughly five minutes into the first period of overtime, the Coyotes found the front of the net and, after some bouncing around, got the puck past Saros and won the series.
Tons of credit to the Coyotes, and best of luck to them, wherever Kuemper carries the team to. There will surely be changes this offseason; our fanbase is not patient enough and the organization is not content enough to allow these mediocre finishes. Until then, enjoy your offseasons, and bring on the Lafrenière hype!
- Juuse blocked the first shot of the game from Arizona! Already doing better than last game.
- Once again, Nashville looks good early; only this time, I refuse to get my hopes up.
- Power play coming up for Nashville. The team who gets the opening goal has won every game this series...
- No results from the power play, back to even strength with a 0-0 score.
- Just like game three, the Predators are doing everything on offense but putting the puck in the net. Is this pressure generating momentum? Maybe. Does it really matter unless they can score on Kuemper? No.
- Michael Grabner wires in a goal off the iron. “Tons of offensive pressure from Nashville, yet Arizona scores first,” where have I heard this before? 0-1 ‘Yotes.
- End of the first. I really, really wish I was more optimistic about this team than I was.
- Another Coyotes goal, this time from Phil Kessel less than two minutes into the game. Not ideal. 0-2 Arizona.
- Duchene line comes within a few inches of scoring, but no luck.
- Matt Duchene draws a hooking call, and Nashville has their second power play of the day.
- The Predators have life. Matt Duchene tips in a shot from the blue line, and the Coyotes lead is cut in half. Is that the best 30 seconds of Duchene’s season? Maybe. 1-2 ‘Yotes.
- Penalty on Watson gets called, and Arizona has a power play opportunity to bounce back.
- Successful penalty kill from the Predators. Next on the to-do list, tie the game.
- TIE GAME. Where would we be without Arvy? For his third goal of the series, Viktor sends a silky smooth shot top-right corner. 2-2.
- Chaos has erupted on both sides of the ice; as the game has broken open, both goalies have been needed to make big saves here late in the second period.
- Interference gets called on the Coyotes, and Nashville has yet another power play opportunity.
- Back to even-strength with less than five to go.
- No goals to end the second period, as we now enter the most important twenty minutes of the Nashville Predators season. No pressure.
- Third period starts with Arvy still in the locker room. If he can’t come back at all, that’s a huge loss for Nashville.
- Early in the third period, Saros lets one slip past him from Jordan Oesterle. 15 minutes to stay alive. 2-3 Coyotes.
- Coyotes have six guys on the ice, and because of that the Predators will have a power play. I really miss Arvidsson.
- No goal on the power play. The sand in the hourglass is running low,
- Five minutes to go. Arvidsson’s absence hangs over this period.
- Duchene comes close, but no cigar. Lots of respect for Duchene, though; he is not the reason Nashville is losing this game at all.
- Saros on the bench. This is it, folks.
- FORSBERG. WHO ELSE. TIE GAME. 3-3.
- Playoff overtime hockey is simply not good for my health.
- Coyotes get some puck presence, and end this series.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Filip Forsberg – Amazing goal. It will be forgotten because of how the game ended, but man that was just ice-cold.
- Darcy Kuemper – Played four games in six days, played great, and dragged his team to three wins.
- Matt Duchene – Thoroughly exceeded my expectations, and provided a glimpse at what he can do when he is on his game.
Tweets of the Day
pass it directly into the boards, yes, that's a winning strategy— Bryan Bastin #StatDad (@projpatsummitt) August 7, 2020
you can remove the laviolette, but the laviolette doesn't leave you
It is times like these (and the start of Game 3) when the Predators' lack of "elite" forward talent is evident.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) August 7, 2020
*Matt Duchene scores for the Preds*— Guy that likes 3 NHL teams (@BoeserIsBetter) August 7, 2020
The Coyotes broadcast: pic.twitter.com/4IQ2eXKuuu