Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves and Brad Richardson scored the game-winner in overtime to lead the Arizona Coyotes past the Nashville Predators, 4-3. The Coyotes win the series 3-1 and advance to the first round.
The first period continued the trend of the past two games. The Preds outshot the Coyotes 15-8, but it was the Coyotes who led after 20 minutes. It was Michael Grabner scoring his second of the series that gave the Yotes a 1-0 lead with a beautiful snipe of the post and in.
The physicality from game three was present once again as the Preds outhit the Coyotes 16-12 in the first. Darcy Kuemper was, once again, a wall in net through the first and the Predators failed to beat him through 20 minutes.
The second period got underway and it looked like the Coyotes would pull away with it. An awful turnover by the duo of Juuse Saros and Roman Josi led to a one-timer from the slot by Phil Kessel as he put the Coyotes up by two.
The Predators bounced back quickly thanks to the power play. Matt Duchene scored his first of the series after deflecting a Josi shot five-hole on Kuemper. The power play came after a questionable call where it could’ve been given as a penalty shot instead. Preds fans weren’t complaining too long though as they made it a 2-1 game.
It wasn’t a one-goal game for very long either. The Predators tied it up at the 8:26 mark at the second thanks to Viktor Arvidsson’s third goal in as many games. Ryan Ellis fired a perfect pass through traffic to the left circle. Arvidsson then ripped one glove side past Kuemper to even the game up at two.
The game stayed that way through the rest of the second period. Both goalies played very well and made some big saves. Shots were 31-20 in favor of the Predators heading into the third period.
The third period started up and much like the first, it didn’t take long for someone to get on the board. The Coyotes broke the tie thanks to a laser through traffic by Jordan Oesterle. The defenseman fired one from the blueline that Saros never saw to give Arizona the 3-2 lead.
There was plenty of back and forth the rest of the game. The Coyotes kept up the pressure trying to get that sealing goal. Meanwhile, Nashville was desperate to tie it and save their season. Saros made multiple great glove saves to keep Nashville in it while Kuemper continued to shut down the Predators attack.
In the final minute of the game, the dam finally broke. With the extra skater on the ice, Filip Forsberg was found in the left circle where he rifled a one-timer past Kuemper to send game four to overtime.
It was back and forth start to overtime with both teams getting a few chances. An unlikely hero finally brought an end to the game and the series. Vinnie Hinostroza made a beautiful back door pass to Brad Richardson who buried home his own rebound to win the game and clinch the series, 3-1. It was his first postseason goal since 2012.
The game was one of the best that we have seen through the playoffs so far. Kuemper was phenomenal in goal while the Predators peppered him. The Coyotes took advantage of their chances with some fantastic shots. In all three of the Predators’ losses, they had at least 40 shots on goal. Clutch scoring and goaltending were the difference in the series and propels Arizona to the next round.
The Coyotes will face the Colorado Avalanche in a best of seven series. The Predators season comes to an end and they will be entered in the second chance NHL Draft Lottery. The lottery will take place on Monday, August 10th at 6 pm EST.
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