The Nashville Predators have shown — definitively — in their Western Conference semifinal series with the Phoenix Coyotes that they can come back from a one-goal deficit.
Two goals were too much Sunday.
Two games? That’s the challenge now.
Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Suter each scored his first goal of the postseason, both of which got Nashville within one. Phoenix answered Hornqvist’s second-period score with one of its own 30 seconds later. It then responded to Suter’s, scored in the opening minute of the third, in 2:43 and sent the Predators to a 5-3 defeat at Glendale, Ariz.
The Coyotes now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 with Game 3 scheduled for Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville has lost the first two games of a series twice previously. Both times — 2004 and 2008 against Detroit — it won the next two at home before it was eliminated in six.
"Obviously, in playoffs anything can happen," Phoenix goalie Mike Smith said. "But we have to feel good where we sit right now. Saying that, it’s going to be a long series and we are setting ourselves up for it. We’re just going to go one game at a time.”
The Predators have yet to hold a lead against the Coyotes. They were tied 1-1 after Andrei Kostitsyn’s goal with 2:47 to go in the first period, but Phoenix scored the next two and stayed in front all the way to the finish.
Nashville also came back to tie three times in Friday’s series opener. Phoenix won that one 4-3 in overtime.
What was expected to be a low-scoring, defense-first series, therefore, has been almost the opposite. There has not been a scoreless period and each team’s power play has converted twice (once each in each contest).
Nashville has allowed four or more goals in the first two games of a playoff series for the first time in its history, and goalie Pekka Rinne has allowed four or more in back-to-back postseason contests for the first time since the final two games of the 2010 first-round series with Chicago.
Antoine Vermette, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan each had a goal and an assist as five Coyotes had two points apiece.
“Right through our lineup, we really had a consorted push," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "I didn’t think there were any weak links. Smith made some saves when he needed to, but our group in front of him was really good.”
Suter, with a goal and an assist, was the only Nashville player with multiple points.