Three nights after signing his entry-level contract and having a lackluster NHL debut, Jeff Skinner looked much more comfortable with his new peers. For Patrick O'Sullivan, it was another day at the RBC Center, another point.
Neither of their performances was enough to give the Hurricanes a win, as Carolina fell to Nashville, 2-1, a night after defeating the Predators on their home ice. But their efforts may have been enough to earn them each a roster spot in Raleigh when the team heads overseas to open their season in Finland.With a mix-and-match lineup that consisted of about half veterans and half youngsters, coach Paul Maurice wasn't concerned that his lineup failed to score an even-strength goal for the second-straight home preseason game.
"That's not our hockey club," Maurice responded when asked if he had any concerns about the lack of scoring punch three games into the preseason. "So it's not a major concern yet. We'd like to score more goals. We seem to be getting the puck back to the point enough for us, and then not enough comes off that and the shot's not getting through. And we're still not attacking the net the way we're going to. We did a much better job of it in Nashville [Thursday night]."
Much like the 10,000-plus fans in attendance, Maurice also seemed to be pleased with the play of Skinner, who played both center and left wing Friday and currently seems to be on the inside looking out when it comes to a roster spot.
"We moved him around a little bit there halfway through the game and he went to the left wing, it's a position he's played before and I thought looked even more comfortable there at times," Maurice said of Skinner, who spent time at center and left wing.
But Maurice said Skinner, who had an assist on the team's lone goal, is still in the hunt for the third-line center position, even if that won't necessarily be a permanent home.
"He's going to play both [left wing and center] and will probably his whole career," Maurice said. "He's capable of doing it. ... He's a two-position guy and comfortable in both places."
O'Sullivan scored for the second straight night and has a point in all three of his games since signing a two-way deal with Carolina a little more than a week ago. O'Sullivan's shot from the point on the 5-on-3 power play — set up by Anton Babchuk and Skinner — trickled through Preds goalie Mark Dekanich to give Carolina a 1-0 lead in the first. But that would be all Carolina would get.
Nashville tied the score when they benefited from a Justin Pogge turnover. Pogge left the puck behind the net for his defense, but neither player retrieved the puck, and David Legwand was able to collect it and squirt a wraparound attempt past Pogge's far right side for a 1-1 tie at the game's halfway point. Four-plus minutes later, a poor line change by Carolina led to a 3-on-2 rush that saw Jordin Tootoo accept a drop pass and rip a slapshot past Pogge's glove to give Nashville the eventual game-winner.
Carolina's efforts to tie the game fell short, with Skinner having the best chance in the final seconds while Carolina was on the power play and had the goaltender pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage. But Preds goalie Andres Lindback, who replaced Dekanich at the game's midway point, was up to the task. Lindback finished with 15 saves.
- Carolina has just one five-on-five goal through three preseason games, and that came Thursday on an O'Sullivan breakaway that was sprung after a broken stick.
- The Canes continued to struggle in the faceoff circle, losing 24 of 40 draws. In the three games, the Canes have won 56 faceoffs and lost 88, a 38.9 winning percentage.
- Jay Harrison, Bobby Sanguinetti, O'Sullivan, Drayson Bowman, Riley Nash and Tom Kostopoulos all played their third game of the postseason. Pogge has been dressed for all three, but did not play in Thursday's win over the Predators in Nashville.
- Harrison, who Maurice highlighted as a player who is making his case to crack the roster on defense, was a minus-2. He's had a negative plus/minus rating in each of the team's three games. Harrison was tied for the team lead in hits (three) and led with three blocked shots.
- Babchuk has points in both games he's played, each time hooking up with O'Sullivan.
- Bryan Rodney left the game with what Maurice called a contusion, but the coach said it was not serious and that he would be day-to-day.
Jussi Jokinen struggled to get up after Predators defenseman Francis Bouillon delivered a knee-to-knee hit at center ice in the third period. Bouillon was accessed two penalties, one for kneeing and another a matching roughing penalty that was also given to Carolina's Chad LaRose, who confronted Bouillon after the hit. Jokinen was able to return for part of the ensuing power play. Bouillon and Larose were tangled up again later in the game when LaRose bumped Lindback following a scoring opportunity.
- Tim Gleason, Brandon Sutter and LaRose wore the A's with Eric Staal out of the lineup.
- Maurice said the team would begin trimming players from its roster soon, and that team planned to take eight defensemen to Europe for the start of Carolina's season. He said Joni Pitkanen would see his first action of the preseason Saturday in Atlanta and that Skinner was slated to again play. Video of Maurice's entire postgame press conference is below.