The Predators were ready. The Canes were ready. The new public address dude in training was ready. Everyone was lined up at center ice waiting for the face-off, but due to some unknown technical difficulties, the lights stayed dim. Talk about a mood killer! After waiting a few minutes, the players started to take warm-ups again, then started stretching. Here we were in a 100 million dollar plus building, and they couldn't turn on the lights? Weird. After 10 minutes, I was ready for the refs to drop the old "glow in the dark" puck and start the game anyway! Finally, when the lights did come on and the puck was dropped, the Preds were ready to play but the Canes seemed like they were still in the dark. I'll give Nashville credit. They came out hitting hard right from the get go. They put the pressure on almost the whole period. The Canes took 3 bad penalties and spent much of the time on their heels reacting to their opponents. Thank goodness, the penalty kill looks very good so far this year. Cam Ward was also in good form and made several very good saves. The Canes only mustered 4 shots on goal for the period, but still managed to escape with a 0-0 tie when they left for the dressing room.
The 2nd period was better and Carolina came out matching Nashville's intensity. Casey Borer made a nice move at the blue line and rifled a shot that found it's way into the net. 1-0 Canes. The rest of the period was pretty even as both goalies made key saves when they were needed. The other highlight of the period was when Ryan Bayda had a breakaway, but he seemed to make one fake too many and couldn't get a good shot attempt off. The 3rd period started out pretty evenly as well. Both teams put decent pressure on at times and had good scoring chances. With about 4 minutes left in the game though, Ray Whitney put in a shot from the circle and the game was as well as over. I thought Matt Cullen and Scott Walker looked great at times playing alongside each other. It seems like they have good chemistry already, which is great news for the Hurricanes. With about a minute left, Cullen had the puck approaching an empty net. He could have easily shot it in himself, but he fed it to Walker who was approaching quickly, wide open to his left. Very unselfish and wise move by Cullen! I'm sure Scott will repay the favor sooner rather that later.
Wardo was the number one star with the shut out, and deservedly so. He does look quicker than last year and he was focused the entire game. So often a goalie will look great at one point of a game, but then lose focus or concentration at another point. Usually that's the point that ends up killing you, even if it's just for a few seconds. Not so with Cam tonight, you could tell he was "into it" the whole game. Casey Borer was the second star and "The Wizard" was the third. The defense had a few break downs, but for the most part played well. Anytime you can hold your opponent under 20 shots, that's not a bad game for the d-men. Nashville had 18 shots total. I don't have much of a problem if the Canes continue with the slow starts, as long as they continue to come on strong in the 3rd period. If memory serves me right, that was their signature most of 2005-06.
The teams do it all over again tonight in Nashville. I expect Grahame and Leighton to share time in the nets with Cole, Staal, Ladd, and Williams replacing Brind'Amour, Walker, Whitney, and Stillman in the line up. Let's keep the winning streak alive!