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Hurricanes Drop Preseason Home Opener To Predators, 3-2

For the second straight game, the Hurricanes held the lead in the third period. And for the second straight game, the team came away with a loss.

Chris Mueller pushed Nashville in front with 13 minutes left, taking several whacks in front of Justin Peters, who relieved starter Cam Ward to start the third period, before eventually depositing it in the Carolina net, giving the Predators a 3-2 win Friday at the RBC Center.

The Canes got two goals from newcomer Alexei Ponikarovsky, who lined up with Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen on the first line, with both tallies coming in the opening minute of the first and third period.

On the game's first shift, Ponikarovsky won a battle behind the Nashville net and beat Predators goalie Jeremy Smith — a former Compuware and Plymouth player — with a wraparound just 31 seconds in to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. He later pushed Carolina in front again, collecting a Staal rebound just 17 seconds into the third period and stuffing it past Anders Lindback to make it 2-1. Staal assisted on both goals.

Nashville had knotted the score at 2 in the third when defenseman Jack Hillen one-timed a rebound off Justin Peters at 5:23 of the third period.

David Legwand had the game's other goal, sneaking behind Tomas Kaberle and converting a cross-ice pass from Patrik Hornqvist to beat Ward and tie the game 1-1 with just over two minutes left in the first period

For the second straight game Peters — Carolina's backup last season who is slated to return to the AHL after the Hurricanes signed veteran Brian Boucher to back up Ward — took the loss, allowing two goals on 10 shots. Ward played two full periods, stopping 20 of 21 shots in his first action of the preseason.

For the second straight game, Carolina lost two forwards to injury. Tim Brent left the game in the second period with a lower body laceration that required stitches, but Maurice said it didn't appear serious yet might keep him out of the Winnipeg game Sunday. Tuomo Ruutu also left the game with a lower body injury, but Maurice said it was precautionary. Patrick Dwyer and Chad LaRose each left the preseason opener at Buffalo with lower body injuries.

The injuries led to a lot of late-game shuffling. With two centers not on the bench, Maurice was forced to move Jeff Skinner back to the middle while mixing and matching all his lines.

Rookie defenseman Ryan Murphy clearly stood out in his second preseason game. The smooth-skating blueliner showed off his shifty moves and quick slapshot throughout the game, and he was leaned on heavily late with Carolina down a goal despite being minus-2 on the night. He was paired with fellow rookie Justin Faulk who, while not as obviously dynamic as Murphy, held his own in his second preseason game, logging 20:56 of ice time.

With 2:59 left, the Predators were called for too many men on the ice, setting up an opportunity for the Hurricanes to tie the score. But the Hurricanes power play, which had just two opportunities on the night, was unable to register a shot on the late-game man-advantage and could not convert in the final minute with Peters pulled from the net.

Paul Maurice Postgame Interview

Alexei Ponikarovsky Postgame Interview

Ryan Murphy Postgame Interview