The Nashville Predators dismantled the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center on Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-2. After winning three games in a row the Canes were due for a let down, and that is exactly what happened.
The Hurricanes had every opportunity to put this game out of reach in the first period as the Predators were called for five, (5) consecutive penalties. At one point the home team had 1:14 of a two-man advantage that was wasted. Then they had 35 seconds of a 4 on 3, and immediately after that yet another 43 seconds of 5 on 3, but still could not get off a decent shot or scoring opportunity during the whole mess of a powerplay.
The Preds came into the game ranked 28th in the league on the penalty kill while on the road. Those percentages are sure to go up after this game.
Nashville had a 1-0 lead after the first period and extended their lead to 4-0 by the second intermission. Several of the Hurricanes did not seem to have any jump or energy throughout most of the contest. Neither Rod Brind'Amour or Eric Staal registered a single shot on goal in the entire game.
Just 30 seconds into the third period, Matt Cullen rifled a shot past Nashville goalie Dan Ellis and the fans finally had something to cheer about. The goal seemed to provide a touch of spark to the Canes bench as well.
Just six minutes later, Chad LaRose made a very nice hustle play and somehow got a shot past Ellis even with a defenseman draped all over him. The score was 4-2 and some fans were thinking about miracle comebacks.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz called timeout though, and got his team back on track.
A few minutes later, Shea Weber scored his second goal of the game on a blast from the blueline, and the game was over. The widely unheralded Predator superstar already led the NHL with the most goals for a defenseman and just padded his total even further.
The Hurricanes need to turn the page and put this episode behind them quickly because they are faced with a back-to-back challenge in Sunrise, Florida tonight.
Thoughts and observations-
Patrick Eaves left the game early and officially has an "upper body' concern. In the dressingroom after the game I saw him with his arm in a sling.
Tim Gleason also left the game early after sliding feet first into the boards. He tried to return to the contest, but went back to the locker room almost immediately. He officially has a "lower body" concern. After the game the media asked Laviolette about the status of both players, but the coach did not know.
Josef Melichar played for the first time since returning from the waiver wire and Anton Babchuk was scratched for this contest.
The regular 5 on 4 powerplay did not look very good, but the team really looked inept with the two man advantage. The passing looked too nonchalant and soft. They continually were outworked by the three defensemen while they played around with the puck.
The 5 on 3 has not looked good this entire season. Maybe it's time for a change?
If it seems to you like the Canes are not scoring much at home during the first period, you would be correct. In 11 games on home ice so far this season, Carolina has only scored 5 times in the first period, while scoring 13 times in the second, and 12 times in the third.
In my opinion, these repetitive Sunday matinees are not a good idea. Once in awhile would be fine, but to have Sunday games every single Sunday in November is quite frankly, not good scheduling. The 3PM start times are a disaster. Attendance for the three November games starting at 3PM have been 12,398, 13,781, and 13,042, three of the four lowest attended games of the season.
I look around the league and I don't see many other games played at this time. They usually are not televised, I assume because there are several NFL games going on at the same time. Saturday night games have always been popular and well attended. It's a shame one or two of those contests couldn't have been played at a more "normal" time frame.
If Hurricanes management has anything to say about this error in scheduling, they should take note and make changes next season.
(attendance numbers and some stats taken from The Whaler's Hurricanes Hockey Report)
Coach Laviolette was obviously disappointed after the game-