Coyotes start fast, hold off Predators 4-3 in Game 1

EDMONTON – Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the first of Arizona’s three first-period goals, a healthy Phil Kessel had two assists and the Coyotes held on to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Sunday to open their Stanley Cup qualifier series.

The Coyotes made the most of their first post-season appearance since 2012, scoring three goals in the opening period on their way to building a 4-1 lead.

The Predators rallied behind two goals by Filip Forsberg, the second midway through the third period, to cut Arizona’s lead to 4-3.

Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 40 shots, held off Nashville’s late push and the Coyotes snatched momentum heading into Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Tuesday.

Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller and Michael Grabner also scored for Arizona.

Ryan Ellis also scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros stopped 33 shots.

Nashville was sixth in the Western Conference when the season was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.The Coyotes were beneficiaries of the new playoff format for the restart, earning a spot in the qualifier after ending the regular season 11th in the West.

BLUE JACKETS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 0

TORONTO (AP) — Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 shots in his first playoff start, Cam Atkinson scored early in the third period and Columbus beat Toronto in Game 1 of their best-of-five qualifying round series.

After Korpisalo matched Toronto veteran goalie Frederik Andersen through the first two periods, Atkinson’s snap shot from the top of the right circle went under Andersen’s right arm 1:05 into the third.

Alexander Wennberg sealed the win with an empty-netter with 19 seconds remaining.

Andersen had 34 saves for the Maple Leafs.

AVALANCHE 2, BLUES 1

TORONTO (AP) — Nazem Kadri scored a buzzer-beating power-play goal to lift Colorado past defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in Western Conference round-robin play.

Kadri’s shot crossed the goal line with 0.1 seconds on the clock. The NHL reviewed the play for several minutes before calling it a good goal.

Colorado took an early lead in the seeding race among the top four teams in the West. The Avalanche, Blues, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars have byes into the traditional first round of the NHL playoffs and will each face the winner of a best-of-five qualifying round series.

David Perrron opened the scoring for the Blues in the first period, and Ryan Graves tied it at 1 on a broken play early in the third.

Phillip Grubauer made 31 saves for the victory. Jordan Binnington stopped 36 shots for St. Louis.

FLYERS 4, BRUINS 1

TORONTO (AP) — Carter Hart stopped 34 shots, and Philadelphia opened the playoffs seeding round with a victory over Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston.

Hart is 11 days shy of his 22nd birthday in becoming the youngest goalie in Flyers history to win a playoff game. Michael Raffl had a goal and assist, and Nate Thompson, Philippe Myers and Scott Laughton also scored.

With 16 teams competing in best-of-five elimination series, the top four teams in each conference are playing a round-robin series to determine seeding entering the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia finished fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, and the Bruins first.

Chris Wagner scored for the Bruins, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 25 shots.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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