Predators tie series with Coyotes, take advantage of tough Game 2 for Kuemper

With the Predators winning Game 2 by a score of 4-2 and tying the series 1-1, the script got flipped on the Coyotes.

In Game 1, it was Nashville that needed to fight uphill after playoff-inexperienced-but-impressive goalie Juuse Saros had a tough start. As great as Darcy Kuemper has been for the Coyotes for some time, Game 2 was not kind to an impressive goalie who still doesn’t have much of a playoff resume.

There was even a faint, late push to make Game 2 more competitive. The Coyotes sanded down a 4-0 deficit to a more respectable 4-2 score with two goals in the final minute, but it merely blemished Saros’ stats.

(Granted, maybe it gave the Coyotes a moderate confidence boost?)

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Saros outplays Kuemper in Game 2, helping Predators tie series vs. Coyotes

Despite opening with a 14-5 shots on goal edge, the Coyotes found themselves down 2-0 to the Predators after the first period. It was really only after Calle Jarnkrok put Nashville up 3-0 that the Predators even started to level the possession game. Eventually, Nashville did just that, evening things out with a pretty strong second period.

Saros looked sharp in Game 2, justifying John Hynes’ decision to stick with Saros even with pressure from some to turn to Pekka Rinne. That might be something for Coyotes fans and observers to keep in mind, then. Kuemper’s been a saving grace at times for Arizona, though he was a detriment to start Game 2.

Granted, some of that position also leans on the possibility that Antti Raanta might not be a much of an option, anyway.

After being a force with two assists in Game 1, Taylor Hall struggled in Game 2. Not only was Hall held off of the scoreboard, but he was also a detriment to his team in some ways. Hall was whistled for eight minutes worth of penalty time in Game 2 alone. Things got physical between Hall and Ryan Ellis during Game 2, and you can expect things to go that way as the series only intensifies.

For better or worse for the Coyotes, they won’t have much time to lick their wounds, as they’ll face the Predators in Game 3 on Wednesday afternoon. We’ll see if this series will continue to be unpredictable — right down to the play of the goalies.

(6) Nashville Predators vs. (11) Arizona Coyotes (Series tied 1-1)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Coyotes 4, Predators 3 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Predators 4, Coyotes 2
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

* – If necessary

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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