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Coyotes F Nick Schmaltz unable to play Game 1 vs. Predators

Arizona Coyotes' Nick Schmaltz (8) is checked by Vegas Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves (75) and Zach Whitecloud (2) during the second period of an NHL hockey exhibition game in Edmonton, Alberta, Thursday July 30, 2020. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Arizona Coyotes were without forward Nick Schmaltz for Sunday’s qualifying round series opener against the Nashville Predators.

Schmaltz, who was simply characterized as “unable to play,” was said to have stiff neck after he took a high hit from Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves in an exhibition game on Thursday.

There was no penalty called on the play and Reaves did not receive supplemental discipline from the NHL.

The 24-year-old has been on the Coyotes’ power play in 2019-20 and had 11 goals with 34 assists overall this season. Usually playing center, the Coyotes went with Christian Dvorak, Barrett Hayton, Derek Stepan and Brad Richardson up the middle in their lineup going into the Nashville game.

The Coyotes’ game on Sunday was the start of a best-of-five series against Nashville, part of the NHL’s qualifying round. Teams that advance from the qualifying round are in the 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs. Arizona was 33-29-8 this year and is playing in the Edmonton bubble with Western Conference teams, while Eastern Conference teams were gathered in Toronto.

After Sunday, Arizona’s next game was scheduled for Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.

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