Nashville opened up the scoring less than a minute into the game. The Predators came in with numbers, and Mattias Ekholm knocked a rebound past Karel Vejmelka, giving the Predators a 1-0 lead just 56 seconds after puck drop.
The early goal led to an early fight, with Liam O’Brien and Mark Borowiecki dropping the gloves on the next faceoff. That set the tone for a game that saw a lot of fighting and many penalties.
The Coyotes and Predators are the third-most and most penalized teams in the NHL, respectively. It led to a significant number of penalties being called, and both teams had plenty of opportunities with the man advantage and playing 4-on-4.
The first period alone would see multiple 4-on-4s starting just 2:37 in when Phil Kessel and Mattias Ekholm were served matching slashing calls. The first period would end with Nashville taking seven penalties, including the fighting major, and the Coyotes taking five.
Unfortunately, the Predators were also able to find a way to generate offense in between all of the penalties. Yakov Trenin and Tanner Jeannot both scored in the final three minutes of the opening frame, and the Coyotes were down 3-0.
The Coyotes had a golden opportunity to start the second when Tanner Jeannot was called for high-sticking, but they could not make anything happen in the brief 4-on-3. Nashville was doing a good job limiting the Desert Dogs’ chances, and the Coyotes were having problems beating goaltender Juuse Saros.
The middle frame saw sustainably fewer penalties, and after the Jeannot high-sticking call, there was only one other penalty. Johan Larsson was called for high-sticking midway through the period, and though the kill provided a golden opportunity for Travis Boyd short-handed, the game remained 3-0 Nashville.
After a slower second, you would expect things to quiet down for the final period, but that quickly went away.
Things started to change early when Clayton Keller scored the Coyotes’ first goal of the night. Keller won an offensive zone faceoff forward, went hard to the net, and roofed his shot over Saros’ shoulder, cutting the Predators’ lead back down to a manageable two.
just the flick of the wrist. pic.twitter.com/tdsvOdJ1wT— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 9, 2022
Yakov Trenin seemed to take exception to something and not long after went after Keller with a little pop. Both Keller and Andrew Ladd took exception to the play and went after Trenin. Eventually, Ladd was given an instigator, a misconduct, and a fighting major, Keller was assessed a minor for roughing, and Yakov Trenin was given a minor for roughing against Ladd and a fighting major.
O’Brien was serving the instigator, but ended up getting a roughing minor almost immediately after being let out of the box. Roman Josi drew the call, and on the resulting power play he fired a shot through traffic and past Vejmelka, giving the Predators a 4-1 lead.
The Coyotes were down, but they still weren’t out. Midway through the final frame, Lawson Crouse knocked in a bouncing puck past Saros, cutting the Predator’s lead back down to two.
The good boys say it's a good goal. pic.twitter.com/709fuBJMm1— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 9, 2022
The goal immediately led to problems. First, the referees looked at the play, and in further review, it did appear that newcomer Riley Nash deflected the puck down with a high-stick before Crouse hit it home. Either way, the review came back a good goal, but the referees had some crowd control to do.
While the review was happening, things were getting heated on the benches. Finally, with less than ten minutes left, Tanner Jeannot and Liam O’Brien were both given misconducts and tossed.
Arizona would take the final penalty of the game less than two minutes later when Christian Fischer was called for a rare faceoff violation. However, the Predators were unable to make anything happen on this final power play.
The Coyotes would pull Vejmelka with over three minutes left, but they could not get another goal. Neither team converted on any of their chances, and the game finished with a final score of 4-2.
The Coyotes definitely gave it their all against the top team in the Central, but they couldn’t make up for the early deficit. It was a tough loss but by no means an unexpected one.
- Roman Josi - Goal and an assist
- Clayton Keller - Goal
- Juuse Saros - 38 saves on 40 shots
The Arizona Coyotes’ homestand concludes in their next game Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 8:00 pm Arizona time.