3 Keys: Coyotes vs. Predators, Game 2 of Cup Qualifiers


No. 11 Coyotes vs. No. 6 Predators

2:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NHL.TV, SN360, SN1, FS-TN, FS-A+ 

Arizona leads best-of-5 series, 1-0 

It’s unclear if Juuse Saros or Pekka Rinne will be the starting goalie for the Nashville Predators against the Arizona Coyotes in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Saros started Game 1 of the best-of-5 series on Sunday and made 33 saves in a 4-3 loss. Rinne’s streak of 89 consecutive postseason starts for Nashville since April 16, 2010 ended, the fourth-longest by a goalie in NHL history.

Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (unfit to play) was not available for Game 1 and remains questionable for Game 2.

“If he can exert himself and feel good … that’s what it comes down to,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said Monday.

Teams with a 2-0 lead are 55-1 (98.2 percent) winning a best-of-5 NHL series (39-1 when used from 1980-86). The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals in a 1985 series.

Here are 3 keys to Game 2:


1. Goalie decisions 

Saros allowed three goals on 14 shots in the first period. He can’t be blamed on Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s goal that deflected off two Nashville players for a 1-0 lead at 7:59. Saros settled down and made 22 saves on 23 shots over the second and third period. 

“We’re going to finalize the decision [Monday] afternoon and I’ll let the goalies know the night before the game,” Predators coach John Hynes said Monday.

The Coyotes are expected to start Darcy Kuemper, who made 40 saves in Game 1, including 18 in the third period when the Predators played with more urgency and had the Coyotes backing up in the neutral zone.


2. Maximum effort

The Coyotes benefited with big performances from their veteran leaders in Game 1. Ekman-Larsson had six shot attempts (three shots on goal) and scored a goal, Taylor Hall had eight shot attempts (three on goal) and had two assists, Phil Kessel had four shots on goal and two assists, Derek Stepan went 58 percent on face-offs (11-of-19), Niklas Hjalmarsson had three blocked shots and Michael Grabner scored a shorthanded goal to make it 4-1 at 16:25 of the second period.

“I think the veterans were huge,” Coyotes forward Clayton Keller said. “We kind of follow those guys because they’ve been there before so it’s definitely comforting to have them; they know what they’re talking about.”

The Predators did pull within 4-3 with two goals on 20 shots in the third period but Hynes expects a better 60-minute effort from his core players in Game 2.


3. Special teams  

The Coyotes were 1-for-6 with 12 shots on goal on the power play. The Predators went 2-for-5 with nine shots while also allowing Grabner’s shorthanded goal. Any momentum after Filip Forsberg scored on the power play to pull Nashville within 3-1 at 19:57 of the first period was lost when the Predators were called for three consecutive penalties to begin the second period (hooking, delay of game, holding).   

“The big difference was we took too many ill-advised penalties, taking them at bad times when we had momentum,” Hynes said. “If we shore those things up and touch up a couple areas we’ll be ready to rerack again.”


Coyotes projected lineup

Taylor Hall — Christian Dvorak — Phil Kessel

Michael Grabner — Barrett HaytonConor Garland

Lawson Crouse — Derek Stepan — Clayton Keller

Carl SoderbergBrad RichardsonChristian Fischer

Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Jason Demers

Jakob ChychrunAlex Goligoski

Jordan Oesterle — Niklas Hjalmarsson

Darcy Kuemper

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Brayden Burke, Michael Chaput, Hudson Fasching, Vinnie Hinostroza, Kyle Capobianco, Jordan Gross, Aaron Ness, Victor Soderstrom, Adin Hill, Ilya Lyubushkin

Unfit to play: Nick Schmaltz


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg — Ryan JohansenViktor Arvidsson

Mikael GranlundKyle TurrisMatt Duchene

Rocco GrimaldiNick BoninoCraig Smith

Calle JarnkrokColton SissonsAustin Watson

Roman JosiRyan Ellis

Mattias EkholmDante Fabbro

Jarred TinordiYannick Weber

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Scratched: Colin Blackwell, Daniel Carr, Dan Hamhuis, Michael McCarron, Eeli Tolvanen, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier, Korbinian Holzer, Troy Grosenick, Connor Ingram

Unfit to play: None

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