The Phoenix Coyotes scored off a Preds turnover in the middle of the first period and Nashville had an apparent goal waived off late in the third period as the Coyotes picked up a 1-0 win to grab a 3-1 series lead.
Nashville started slowly in the first period, but continued to play better as the game progressed, still the Preds now head to Phoenix needing to sweep the final three games in order to advance. Both goaltenders navigated an end-to-end wide open start to the game, making key saves to keep the game scoreless until the skaters settled in to a more defensive style.
Now on to the musings…
Wide Open Start -- The first six-and-half minutes of play was wide open run-and-gun hockey with both teams trading scoring chances. Not the style of game the Preds really want to play, but it did make for an entertaining start. And both teams were flying around the ice. Rinne got into the game early as he was forced to make three or four quality stops, including a one-on-goalie down low by Boedker just under five minutes into the game.
Spaling-Wilson-Yip – The Spaling line – with Wilson and Yip on the wings – was very effective for Nashville tonight and seemed to get stronger as the game continued. The trio finished the game with five of the team’s 25 shots on goal --- including a third of the 15 shots fired by the team’s forwards. Beyond the shots on goal, the line held time of possession in the Phoenix zone for the majority of their shifts.
Hornqvist -- Patric Hornqvist was front-and-center in several of the Preds top scoring chances tonight; he took 25 shifts in the game and seemed to have close to a dozen good chances, starting with a great chance on a scrum as time expired in the first period with Hornqvist and Bourque trying to whack away at a loose puck in the crease. In the second period Hornqvist rang a shot off the post 5:31 on a rush in transition 5:31 into the period and then snapped a shot over the crossbar on Smith's giveaway a few seconds later. A misfire on a backdoor redirect later in the second period, a strong neutral zone move late in the second period, a pair of one-on-one partial breakaways in the third period, along with what appeared to be the game-tying goal on the power-play with 7:12 remaining in regulation (the officials waived the play off because they intended to blow the whistle before the puck crossed the line).
1) PHX G Mike Smith – 25-save shutout
2) NSH G Pekka Rinne – 23 saves; only goal against was deflected off a stick and off the post
3) NSH F Patric Hornqvist – game-high 12 attempted shots, most from dangerous scoring areas