GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes created one last memory in their final game at Gila River Arena.
Their four-goal comeback also put the Nashville Predators in a difficult spot: instead of facing Calgary, they get top-seeded Colorado in the first round of next week’s playoffs.
Shayne Gostisbehere scored two goals and the Coyotes rallied from a four-goal deficit to beat the Nashville Predators 5-4 Friday night in their final game before moving across town.
“A little storybook ending, I guess,” Gostisbehere said. “Obviously, not the best start, them scoring on their first three shots, but it shows the resiliency of our team.”
Nashville scored three goals in the opening three minutes and went up 4-0 midway through the first period, appearing as if it would spoil Arizona’s final game after 19 seasons in Glendale.
The Coyotes turned the music back on, setting off roars from more than 15,000 fans with five straight goals. Michael Carcone tied it early in the third period and Gostisbehere put the Coyotes up 5-4 midway through by beating Connor Ingram from near the blue line.
Harri Sateri stopped 27 shots after replacing Karel Vejmelka for Arizona, which finished with the NHL’s second-worst record behind Montreal at (25-50-7).
The Coyotes celebrated the comeback in the Glendale finale by staying on the ice to give their sticks and jerseys to season ticket holders.
“It was electric out there tonight,” Boyd said. “The fans brought it. Obviously, we didn’t have the start we wanted, but as we started to get back into the game, the fans were getting into it, into it, into it. Certainly a fun way to go out.”
The Predators fell apart after a fast start, not a good sign heading into the playoffs. Even worse, they have to play Colorado instead of Calgary in the opening round of the playoffs. Colton Sissons, Ryan Johansen, Eeli Tolvanen and Mikael Granlund scored for Nashville.
“We obviously started strong and they just bounced back,” Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier said. “They outworked a little bit and it’s disappointing. That’s not the result we wanted.”
The Coyotes had numerous former players on hand to celebrate the franchise’s 19 seasons at Gila River Arena before moving across the Valley of the Sun next year.
Once former captain Shane Doan and Jeremy Roenick dropped the ceremonial puck, the Predators dumped over the punchbowl at their going-away party.
Sissons scored 25 seconds into the game, Johansen followed with another and Tolvanen made it three goals in the opening 2:51, leaving Coyotes fans stunned.
Granlund made it 4-0 a few minutes later, chasing Vejmelka with a fourth goal on Nashville’s sixth shot.
“We definitely wanted to get out, put our best foot forward,” Sissons said. “Obviously, that’s a great thing when you’re up 4-0.”
Then the Coyotes found the light switch.
Gostisbehere scored late in the first period, Travis Boyd tipped in a shot in the second and Jack McBain punched in a rebound late in the period. Carcone needed less than two minutes of the third to tie it, beating Ingram from the right circle seconds after Nashville killed off a penalty.
Gostisbehere banged a shot off the post past Ingram and Sateri made some tough saves down the stretch to end Arizona’s run at Gila River Arena with a dramatic win.
Nashville’s Roman Josi had an assist on Sissons’ goal and finished the season with 96 points, most by an NHL defenseman since Phil Housley had 97 in 1992-93. … Nashville G Juuse Saros did not play for the second straight game after suffering a lower-body injury Tuesday against Calgary. His status for the playoffs is uncertain. … Coyotes C Nathan Smith stayed on the ice after taking a hard hit by Jeremy Davies in the third period. He was attended to by Arizona’s trainer and skated gingerly off the ice after a couple of minutes.
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