Nashville Predators 2, Arizona Coyotes 4: Lack of urgency dooms Preds

This had the potential to be a solid point to move forward from, but it didn’t work out.

The Nashville Predators had a chance to build off of a costly win on Saturday morning tonight, back at home against the Arizona Coyotes, but squandered it. Filip Forsberg, injured on Saturday, was replaced by Phil Tomasino. For a rookie in this situation, Tomasino looked fine, but much of the rest of the team could have looked better.

After the anthems, a tribute video to PK Subban—both as a player on the team and a participant in the Nashville community—played to the sound of loud cheers from the crowd. Subban, back in town for the day after announcing his retirement at the start of the season, greeted the crowd before the puck drop, which highlighted his Blueline Buddies program.

The game started off fairly slowly, with the Preds getting a few good shifts in early, before a boarding penalty against Yakov Trenin gave Nashville the first power play of the game. Although the Preds got some chances during and immediately after their power play, a few shifts later the Coyotes started to push back. When Cody Glass overbalanced and was unable to collect a breakout pass, Clayton Keller was able to intercept the puck and set Nick Schmaltz up for a perfect shot that froze Kevin Lankinen and put the Coyotes on the board at 17:15.

They almost added another when it looked, from the TV feed, as if Dante Fabbro collided with Lankinen while trying to make a defensive play. Fortunately, Juuso Pärssinen was able to get the puck to safety while Lankinen struggled back up.

The second period started slowly for the Preds, before the Coyotes put six skaters on the ice and got caught—to the absolute bafflement of head coach André Tourigny, who seemed to be trying to figure out just where the line change had gone wrong as the penalty was called. The Preds managed nothing with that power play, but got another one moments later as Colton Sissons drew a holding penalty from Victor Söderström.

This time, with some help from Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi scored on a one-timer almost right off the faceoff to tie the game 1-1 at 4:41 of the second. The Preds continued to push, and a physical shift from the Herd Line let Colton Sissons get the go-ahead goal at 8:58.

However, Mattias Ekholm took a holding penalty, the Preds lost track of Lawson Crouse on the power play, and the Coyotes tied the game back up 2-2 at 12:17 on their first shot on goal of the period.

Almost as soon as the teams returned to even strength, Jack McBain hooked Tomasino and the Preds returned to the power play. They were again unable to score, thanks in part to some continued great work from Karel Vejmelka, and the teams returned to even strength. With under a minute to go, Schmaltz stole the puck and the Coyotes were off on an odd-man rush. Keller hit the crossbar and the Preds were able to recover, holding off the rest of the frenetic shift from the Coyotes to end the period still tied.

The third period started off well for the Preds, but Kevin Gravel lost track of Crouse in the slot and he scored his second of the night to give the Coyotes the lead back, 3-2, at 4:20 of the third. The Coyotes settled into a solid defensive structure, despite some good individual efforts from Pärssinen, and the game stagnated.

Nashville got a late power-play opportunity when Crouse shot the puck over the glass with under five minutes remaining in the game, but failed to take advantage. With Lankinen pulled for the extra attacker, the Coyotes got several shots at the empty net before Christian Fischer scored into it with 53 seconds remaining.

It was a disappointing late effort—or lack of effort and execution—from the Preds, against a weak opponent that’s officially already given up on the season.