Michael Grabner scored a shorthanded breakaway goal in the second period to give the Arizona Coyotes a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their best-of-five NHL qualifying series.
Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall had two assists each for the Coyotes who also got single goals from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller.
Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators and Ryan Ellis added a goal. Roman Josi added two assists for the Nashville crew.
The Coyotes scored three times on 13 shots, all within eight minutes, to get a big jump on the Predators in the first period.
Ekman-Larsson could have used a pool cue to make the shot for the Coyotes' first goal. He banked a point shot off Predators forward Kyle Turris which then deflected off the shoulder of Matt Duchene. Goaltender Juuse Saros had no chance to make a save, putting the Coyotes on the board at 7:59 of the first.
Dvorak and Keller each followed with scores with Keller logging a powerplay goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Predators got one back with a mere 2.5 seconds left in the first.
Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson failed on an attempt to clear the puck from his own zone, sliding it right to Forsberg. The Predators sniper, who had 21 goals and 48 points in 63 games of the shortened regular season, skated in and fired the puck at Darcy Kuemper. The goalie made the initial save but the puck bounced off Hjalmarsson and into the net.
Grabner got the Coyotes fourth goal and eventual game-winner at 16:25 of the second with his own defenseman Jakob Chychrun in the penalty box. He collected a loose puck at the Coyotes blueline and free-skated down the ice, switched to the backhand and lifted the puck over Saros.
"I almost toe-picked," he said during the second-period intermission.
The Predators moved the puck better in the third and were rewarded early. Ellis fired a point shot through traffic at the 30-second mark to cut the Coyotes lead to two. On the power play at 8:56, Josi faked Kuemper out of his net and dished the puck over to Forsberg, who had a wide open net.
The Nashville crew forced Kuemper to come up with some big saves in the third but he held on for the win. Kuemper faced 43 shots from the Predators, while the Coyotes fired 37 at Saros.
Game 2 is set for Tuesday.
--Field Level Media