(Edmonton) Oliver Ekman-Larsson netted the Coyotes' first of three goals in the first period and the Arizona squad defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Sunday.
The Coyotes maximized their first NHL playoff appearance since 2012 by hitting the target three times in the first period, giving themselves a 4-1 lead.
The Predators got back into the game with two goals from Filip Forsberg and they even closed the gap to 4-3.
Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 40 shots in the win, however closed the door to the Predators in the dying minutes of the game. The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead in this three-of-five series and the second game is on Tuesday.
Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller and Michael Grabner also threaded the needle for the Coyotes. Phil Kessel was complicit in two goals from his own.
Ryan Ellis also scored for the Predators. In his first career playoff start, Juuse Saros blocked 33 shots.
The Predators finished the season sixth in the Western Conference. The Coyotes have meanwhile benefited from an expanded playoff format to sneak in the playoffs despite their 11 th position in the standings.
The Coyotes also had to deal with a distraction before arriving in Edmonton, when they learned that their general manager John Chayka had resigned from his post.
When the puck hit the ice, however, the Coyotes players set the pace. Ekman-Larsson opened the scoring with a shot that hit Predators center Kyle Turris and teammate Matt Duchene before outwitting Saros' vigilance.
Dvorak doubled his team's lead less than three minutes later, jumping on a return throw from Kessel. Keller gave the Coyotes a 3-0 priority on a power play.
After Forsberg closed the gap before the end of the first period, Grabner put the Coyotes back to a three-goal lead when he beat Saros on a breakaway in a shorthanded penalty.