Coyotes hold off Predators’ comeback to take Game 1

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The Coyotes denied a Predators comeback to take Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Qualifier series, 4-3.

Arizona came out flying in the first period, beating Juuse Saros three times in a span of 7:43. A fluky double deflection, a defensive zone turnover, and a power play would force Nashville to chase the rest of the game.

Nashville won the possession game, controlling 69% of shot attempts at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick, but couldn’t solve Darcy Kuemper, who finished with 40 saves.

Before we move on, let’s take a look at Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s wacky opening goal:

Undisciplined Predators

The momentum created as the Predators mounted a comeback was halted by penalties. They handed the Coyotes six power plays in Game 1, including one late in the third period while they continued controlling possession.

The Predators had their chances, but kept creating their own mistakes. Down 3-1, and on a power play late in the second period, Filip Forsberg‘s pass went right to Michael Grabner, who had plenty of space ahead for a shorthanded goal.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Rinne’s streak ends

Saros getting his first career playoff start meant that Pekka Rinne’s 89-game postseason streak came to an end.

Rinne’s streak began in 2010 and is the fourth-longest for a goalie in NHL history behind Martin Brodeur (194), Patrick Roy (133), and Henrik Lundqvist (128).

Who was the last Predators goalie to start a playoff game before Rinne’s streak began? That would be Dan Ellis.

Now comes decision time. It’s hard to pin the loss on Saros’, but coaches are prone to overreaction. Would Hynes make the decision to switch in order shake up his team in an 0-1 hole in a best-of-five series? The head coach has faith in both.

“I feel very confident in both goalies,” Hynes said on Saturday. “As we’ve said, in training camp, they were both very competitive and both played well and it’s a unique situation. I feel that the way that they are together, the way the compete and support each other, it’s helpful.”

Hynes did say Sunday after Game 1 he liked Saros’ game but does not have a decision on a Game 2 starter right now.

(6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes

Tuesday, Aug. 4: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Aug. 5: Predators vs. Coyotes, 2:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Predators vs. Coyotes*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Coyotes vs. Predators*, TBD

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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