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


No. 6 Predators vs. No. 11 Coyotes

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

Best-of-5 series is tied, 1-1

Juuse Saros could make his third straight start when the Nashville Predators play the Arizona Coyotes in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday.

Saros made 24 saves for his first NHL postseason win, a 4-2 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city, that evened the series. The winner of the series advances to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Coach John Hynes said prior to the Qualifiers that Saros and Pekka Rinne each could play in the series.

“[Saros] had a good stretch before the NHL pause (on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus) and had a good training camp,” Hynes said. “We haven’t made a decision for [Wednesday] at this point. I think it’s important to let [Game 2] digest a little bit and go back, watch video and then make a decision.”

Teams that win Game 3 after a series is tied 1-1 are 21-7 (75 percent) winning a best-of-5 NHL series (14-2 when last used from 1980-86).

Here are 3 keys to Game 3:


1. Quick turnaround

The Predators and Coyotes will play the second of back-to-back games.

“We’ll tweak a couple of things, but you have to get a good meal in and get a good night’s rest,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “You win, everything’s great, you lose, everything stinks. That’s the way the playoffs are. The teams that are even-keel are the teams that are successful. We’ll move past this in two minutes and get ready for tomorrow.”


2. Shot blockers

The Predators had 21 blocked shots in Game 2, including a game-high five by Nick Bonino. The forward also scored and went 8-for-13 on face-offs.

“Nick’s a glue guy with a lot of experience in the playoffs,” Hynes said. “He blocks shots, takes face-offs and has good hockey instincts.”

Bonino, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2016, 2017), is in his 11th NHL season and third with the Predators.

“We just have to move the puck quicker and get the shots off quicker (to get around blocked shots),” Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. “Maybe switch lines, move the body a little bit too, so it’s harder for them to get into shooting lanes.”


3. Raanta’s status

The Coyotes could be without goalie Antti Raanta (unfit to play), who was replaced on the bench by Adin Hill at 14:03 of the second period of Game 2. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

“Something happened (to Raanta) in warmup,” Tocchet said. “We’ll talk about [our goalie situation] tonight for tomorrow.”

Hill, who was 2-4-3 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 13 games (nine starts) this season, has no postseason experience; Raanta has played three playoff games, with the New York Rangers in 2016. Darcy Kuemper allowed four goals on 28 shots in Game 2.


Coyotes projected lineup

Taylor HallChristian DvorakPhil Kessel

Michael GrabnerBarrett HaytonConor Garland

Lawson CrouseDerek StepanClayton Keller

Carl SoderbergBrad RichardsonChristian Fischer

Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Jason Demers

Jakob ChychrunAlex Goligoski

Jordan OesterleNiklas Hjalmarsson

Darcy Kuemper

Adin Hill

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, Antti Raanta


Predators projected lineup

Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenViktor Arvidsson

Mikael GranlundKyle TurrisMatt Duchene

Rocco Grimaldi — Nick Bonino — Craig 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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