Two goals in the third period gave the Nashville Predators life, but they were unable to erase the three-goal deficit they suffered in the first frame.
Nashville fell in Game 1 to the Arizona Coyotes, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon. The victory gives Arizona a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, with Games 2 and 3 coming back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“They won the first period and capitalized on their opportunities… both teams competed hard, we had a really strong push in the third period, but we didn’t capitalize like they did when they had their push,” Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. “It’s all about Game 2 now, so we’ll take the lessons out of this game and make sure that we’re ready to go for round two.”
The Preds spent the final 11 minutes of regulation seeking the tying goal, but 43 shots yielded only three goals and Nashville did not claw back from an eight-minute span in the first period, which saw three Coyotes score.
Arizona claimed each of the game’s first three goals in the opening period, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller all beat Preds netminder Juuse Saros. Saros made his first-career postseason start and recorded 33 saves.
The first goal in particular was the definition of a friendly bounce for the Coyotes, as the puck deflected off the stick of Kyle Turris and off the body of Matt Duchene before carroming into the net.
“He had some situations where I thought he stayed mentally focused, and he had some big saves throughout the game,” Hynes, who declined to name a starter for Game 2, said of Saros. “As the game went on, he made saves when we needed them. When we were making a good push, they had a couple opportunities and he was there. He kept it at four [goals for Arizona], and we were able to keep pecking away at the score and that’s what you want from your goaltender.”
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