The Arizona Coyotes upset the Nashville Predators in four games to move on to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Coyotes won Games 1, 3 and 4 while the Predators won Game 2 of the qualifying round. The Coyotes were also the first of three lower seeded teams to pull off an upset series win (Coyotes were No. 11 and Predators were No. 6). Here’s a recap of Game 4 between the Coyotes-Predators.
Nashville were on the brink of elimination so they knew they had to play a strong first period. They controlled the first half of the period until they started to turn the puck over. Arizona took advantage of Nashville’s mistakes and capitalized on it late in the period. Coyotes forward Michael Grabner scored the game’s first goal with 2:33 left in the period. Even though the Predators had turnover problems, they outshot the Coyotes 15-8 during the period.
Arizona went into the second period with a 1-0 lead.
The Predators continued to struggle with turnovers and it was evident early in the period. Coyotes forward Phil Kessel scored an early goal on a turnover by Predators goaltender Juuse Saros. But, the Predators started to turn things around when they went on a power play. Predators forward Matt Duchene scored the team’s first goal to cut the lead back down to one. Nashville was also able to tie the game from forward Viktor Arviddson almost exactly four minutes from Duchene’s power play goal. From there, it was a back and forth battle with both teams getting scoring chances but none resulted in a goal.
The game was tied at two heading into the third period.
Another early goal was made from the Coyotes to start the period. Coyotes defenseman Jordan Oesterle shot a seeing eye shot 4:21 into the period and regained the team’s one goal lead. The Coyotes were in control of the period except the last minute of the game. With 38 seconds left, Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis kept the puck in the zone and then forward Filip Forsberg scored to tie the game with 31 seconds left. How fitting is it that an elimination game goes into overtime.
The game was tied at three heading into overtime.
There were only two important plays that tells a tale of two different events. Duchene had a chance to win the game at 16:18 but Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper made the save. 2:23 later, Coyotes forward Vinnie Hinostroza and defenseman Jason Demers play catch and Hinostroza feeds the puck to forward Brad Richardson. Richardson shot the puck but it hit the shin pads of Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and got his own rebound to score the series winning goal.
Arizona won the game 4-3 and series 3-1. They will play either the Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche depending on who wins the top seed in the Western Conference. Also, this will be Arizona’s first Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance since 2012.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star: Brad Richardson (1 goal)
Second Star: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2 assists)
First Star: Darcy Kuemper (49 saves)