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Carolina Smashed By Nashville: Predators 5, Hurricanes 2

Nashville, TN  The Carolina Hurricanes were dominated much of the opening period as they fell behind 3-1, and the Nashville Predators held on to defeat the up and down Canes, 5-2 on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. 

Patric Hornqvist knocked in a rebound just 2:33 into the game to get the scoring started for the home team, but Joe Corvo would answer that one 18 seconds later to tie things up, 1-1. 

The rest of the first period was pretty much all Nashville, though.  After goals by Shea Weber and Marcel Goc, the Canes skated into the dressing room behind 3-1.  They were also out-shot 17-10.

Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice made wholesale changes to his lines to start the second period and the shake up seemed to give the team new life.  The Canes started winning faceoffs and started to create more chances in the Nashville zone.  The new lines were as follows:

  • Staal, Ruutu, LaRose
  • Sutter, Skinner, Cole
  • Jokinen, Bodie, Dwyer
  • Carter, Tlusty, Samsonov

After the game, Maurice said that he was not entirely happy with the changes and will continue to work on the lines this coming week.  "I moved Ruutu up with Staal to give him more size on his line," the coach said.  Will Ruutu remain at wing or move back to center?  That's to be determined.

We will discuss the lines much more on the blog this coming week.  

The Hurricanes were buzzing in the Nashville zone in the second and made a game of it when Jiri Tlusty knocked in a goal about midway through the period. 

"Carter was doing a really good job on faceoffs, and he won three in a row in the same zone." said Tlusty.  "He won the faceoff, Corvo put a simple shot on net, and the rebound was lying there for me."  With the score 3-2, the Canes had some momentum, but the Preds killed a penalty later in the period and they seemed to take the momentum back after that.

The teams battled fairly evenly until the Predators broke it open after killing yet another penalty in the third.

Cal O`Reilly skated in alone on an odd man rush and beat Ward at 8:44 into the final period to give his team a formidable 4-2 lead.  Steve Sullivan then added an empty netter to close things out. 

The Canes now have several days off before their next game which will be in Dallas on Friday night. 

Quick thoughts and stats:

  • The Canes had their best night of the season in the faceoff circle as they won 57% of their draws.  Ryan Carter led the way with 73%.  Carter was hurt later in the game as he and Ryan Suter got tangled up when they both chased after an iced puck.  Suter was given a boarding penalty on the play. There was no official report on Carter's status after the game.
  • Cam Ward admitted that he had trouble controlling his rebounds in that fateful first period.  Maurice told me that he did not consider removing Ward from the contest because he felt the goals were not soft ones and his number one goalie has plenty of time to rest up this week.  He finished with 34 saves on 38 shots.
  • Patrick Dwyer led the way with five hits.  The team was credited with a total of 21.
  • Carolina finished with 30 shots on goal while Nashville had 38.  Joe Corvo and Chad LaRose each had four, highest on the club.
  • In both games against Nashville, the Hurricanes were playing their second game in as many nights while the Predators were working on a day off the previous day.
  • Maurice complained post game about the team still not doing the "little things, like shooting the puck" when he would like them to.  It's not the first time the coach has complained about that.
  • The Canes finished 0-4 on the powerplay.