By dropping Game 3 against Arizona by a 4-1 score this afternoon, the Predators now face possible elimination on Friday in Game 4.
In retrospect, Arizona scoring the first goal on their very first shot (after the Preds had barraged Darcy Kuemper with eight great chances in the first five minutes of the game) should have served as a message that it won't be a 60-minute cake walk just because your shot count is higher.
The Preds truly dominating effort in the offensive zone today was made to look silly by the Coyotes' three-goal third period. The unfortunate pill the Preds have to swallow after this loss is that, no matter how they negotiate it in their heads, goals- not shots- win hockey games. This can be a truly frustrating concept to grasp, especially given that the Preds did almost everything they could on offense to tally goals. Granted, Kuemper had a fantastic afternoon (39 saves, .975 SV%), but the Preds have to be able to break him down like they did yesterday if they expect to move onto Round One.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Preds recorded a whopping 16 High-Danger Chances, yet only got a single one past Kuemper. The Coyotes, on the other hand, recorded eight HDCF but converted on four of them. The JoFA line accounted for 15 of the team's 40 total shots, naturally finishing as the only Preds to score this afternoon.
The tide almost turned when Kyle Turris scored early in the third period, but it was challenged and nullified after a replay showed Matt Duchene clearly offsides as the Preds entered the zone. Had the goal counted, it would have been the first lead-change of the series thus far; in Games 1 and 2, the leading team never forfeited the lead in all 60 minutes of each game.
Boneheadedness got a game-changing goal reversed, and boneheadedness served Game 3 to the Coyotes on a silver platter. The Preds were still only down by one when Craig Smith took an irresponsible (and totally avoidable) illegal head check penalty; the subsequent Arizona power play resulted in a goal by Taylor Hall.
Just to add insult to injury, Carl Soderberg scored on an empty Preds net literally three seconds after John Hynes pulled Juuse Saros. I'll ask the unanswerable again- pulling the goalie hasn't worked for the Preds the last 200 times, so why would it work the 201st time?
Hall, Phil Kessel, and Christian Dvorak- the thorns in the Preds' side in Game 1- went back to business today, accounting for 10 shots and four points.
So far, Saros' playoff starts have left a lot to be desired. It's going to be a very tough call for Hynes to either elect Saros to start in Friday's elimination game, or to start Pekka Rinne, whose 2019-20 season has been the worst of his career.