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Nashville Predators 4, Arizona Coyotes 8: One record ends, another begins

Mar 28, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad (17) scores on Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) in the second period at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As we might have expected, the Preds’ franchise-record point streak came to an end not against a Stanley Cup favorite, but against one of the teams they’ve never been able to solve. The Arizona Coyotes added a fantastic all-around game to their longtime status as a Nashville roadblock and stopped the streak cold–or hot, given the current temperature in Phoenix.

The Preds came out strong to start the game, with Cody Glass setting Jason Zucker up for two goals against his former team in the first 5:11. The Coyotes, however, were in no mood to let the game be run away with, and Jack McBain banked a shot in off of Juuse Saros’s knee to make it 2-1 Preds at 8:00. Play slowed down some after that, with the Coyotes managing a good flurry and regaining some of their losses on the shot counter but neither team getting much else by way of extended chances.

With 4:15 left in the first period, and the crowd roaring, Josh Doan came in on a breakaway, and Saros stopped him cold, then covered the rebound. However, just over a minute later, Logan Cooley tied it back up for real at 17:00, to jubilation from the stands. The Coyotes were pushing hard now, and the Preds couldn’t seem to recover their footing.

With just 0:38 left in the period, Kiefer Sherwood took Juuso Välimäki into the boards and was whistled for it. The end-of-period buzzer came just in time to break up a fantastic-looking power play by the Coyotes that had Saros scrambling and at least one post saving the day. Intermission helped, and the Preds managed to get the rest of the penalty killed.

The Preds got a good series of chances on Connor Ingram, during the course of which Josh Brown was injured while blocking a shot and had to wait for a stoppage in play to get off the ice and down the tunnel. Not long after, Luke Schenn and Liam O’Brien dropped the gloves, with Schenn taking a decisive win away from the meet.

However, a deeply questionable too-many-men call, a smart play by one of the Coyotes to knock down a clear, and a smart shot by Clayton Keller gave the Coyotes a 3-2 lead at 7:11. Cooley then made it 4-2 exactly a minute later.

The Preds finally got a chance on the power play themselves when Lawson Crouse took Jeremy Lauzon down to the ice and then cross-checked him while he was lying there, and scored a much-needed goal as Gus Nyquist finished off some smooth passing from Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi to cut the deficit to one at 11:08.

Arizona responded with vigor, making their way aggressively into the Preds’ defensive zone and turning up the heat. At 12:36, Nick Bjugstad scored their fifth of the evening, and Nick Schmaltz made it 6-3 Coyotes at 16:05. That finally lit a fire under the Preds, but Mark Jankowski let himself get goaded into a cross-checking penalty, giving the Coyotes another chance on the power play.

The Preds killed the penalty off and managed a foray into the Arizona zone in the dying seconds of the period, but Ingram made a sharp save on Forsberg and the three-goal deficit remained. Hostilities broke out after the buzzer, but no penalties were assessed.

Kevin Lankinen started the third period in net for the Preds, but it wasn’t the spark the team had needed. The Coyotes continued their relentless play, Jeremy Lauzon–just back from injury–headed off the ice and down the tunnel after an awkward block, and time started to run out. While Lauzon returned, the Preds’ goalscoring ability did not; Ingram made some more great saves.

With just over 6:20 remaining, Brunette pulled Lankinen for the extra attacker–a bold and strategic move that unfortunately didn’t pay off, as Matias Maccelli almost immediately scored an empty-netter. After that, and despite the crowd at Mullett Arena starting the wave, the actual game was all over but the clock.

Still, a late power play opportunity let Forsberg score in his seventh consecutive game, setting a different franchise record–breaking his own, rather–even as the team’s point streak expired. (Josi’s assist on Forsberg’s goal was also his 500th career assist.)

With around three minutes to go, Lankinen left for the extra skater again, and despite some hard work by the Preds Cooley completed his hat trick into the empty net.

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