Nashville Predators Seize Control Over Arizona Coyotes in Game 2

Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

Much of what happened in the third period of Game 1 for the Nashville Predators spilled over into Game 2 as the series is now tied at a game apiece.

Falling behind 2-0 in a best-of-five series just wasn’t an option for the Nashville Predators earlier today. They had to respond quickly and actually play with a lead on the scoreboard.

In opposite fashion from Sunday’s Game 1 loss, the Predators quickly struck twice in the first period to open up a multi-goal lead. The Coyotes did a similar thing to the Predators in Game 1.

This time around the Predators kept their foot on the gas for the majority of the game, while testing Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper on a regular basis. The shots on goal weren’t enormous, but their chances were of high quality when they took them.

Turning points of the game

The Predators inexplicably went on the penalty kill just five seconds after the opening faceoff. Filip Forsberg took the penalty, and the Predators were immediately tested to not fall behind quickly yet again.

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Much like in Game 1, the Predators penalty kill came up big again. Only this time they didn’t let all of the penalties hold back their momentum. The Predators had control of the game after killing off that first penalty.

The Predators have now killed off eight of the nine Arizona power play attempts. A key factor to why this series is tied and the Predators aren’t on the brink of elimination right now.

Another turning point in the game was the Predators getting a goal from an unlikely source in Calle Jarnkrok. Depth scoring is always important in the postseason, and the Predators got that today.

Jarnkrok has always shown glimpses that he can be an offensive force, but has never quite panned out as a top-six forward. Even so, his goal today to widen the lead to 3-0 proved to be the difference-maker and was his first career game-winning goal in the playoffs, per Predators PR:

What else stood out in the win

Aside from the depth scoring and the penalty kill continuing to show success, a big takeaway from the Game 2 win is Juuse Saros reaffirming that he’s the right choice as the starting goaltender for this series.

Saros had his shutout completely spoiled by poor execution and loss of focus in the final 60 seconds of regulation by his teammates. The game was pretty much over with a 4-0 lead, but you can’t just fall asleep at the wheel like the Predators did.

Instead of closing it out, the Coyotes got two quick goals on lazy defensive play from Predators. The first one by Clayton Keller you can live with, but the second one by Lawson Crouse was absolutely the product of no defensive resistance and Saros being left out to dry.

Be that as it may, Saros was magnificent despite their being some calls to turn to Rinne after Arizona scored four goals in Game 1. But Head Coach John Hynes wisely stuck to his guns and kept Saros as the starter.

It was Saros’ first career win in the postseason, and it should’ve been a shutout. He ends up stopping 24 shots on 26 attempts.

You have to be energized by seeing Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen both find the back of the net. These guys are critical to the Predators long-term success both now and into next season.

Arvidsson is finally 100 percent healthy, so let’s see if he can launch forward. His laser of a goal to make it 4-0 was a pinpoint shot that Kuemper probably barely saw and had very little chance of stopping.

Finally, I have to give credit to Hynes to making the necessary coaching adjustments on the off day to bring in a hungry Predators team that executed its gameplan beautifully. We always want to focus on the goal scorers and the players themselves, but Hynes is gradually molding this team into his own.

Other notes to the game include Roman Josi tallying his third assist of the series and Forsberg continuing his aggressive play with six shots on goal.

A quick turnaround as Game 3 is tomorrow at the same time of 1:30 P.M. CDT and will once again be broadcast on NHL Network and regionally on Fox Sports Tennessee.