The first half of the 2018 preseason was nothing short of dominant for the Carolina Hurricanes, a team in desperate need of some positivity to build on entering the regular season.
On the road with a young roster, the Canes took on an NHL-quality Nashville Predators lineup on Tuesday night, and they kept the good times rolling.
Like they had done in each of the first three exhibition games, the Hurricanes dominated the opening frame.
The road team broke the ice at the 5:37 mark of the opening frame. Clark Bishop stick-handled his way through the Nashville zone, and Warren Foegele was able to shovel a loose puck past Pekka Rinne to give the Canes a 1-0 lead.
Through 20 minutes, the Canes outshot the Predators 14-4, dominated possession, and dictated the pace of play.
That changed a little bit in the middle frame.
The second period was much more even as both teams had their fair share of high-quality chances, and this was when Scott Darling started to steal the game. The second-year Carolina netminder continued to shut out the Predators through the end of the second period, making a number of big saves along the way.
Another great save from Darling. He's looked calm and in-control tonight. pic.twitter.com/M6rO0oxdFX— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) September 26, 2018
He also got some more goal support in the second period, thanks to a long-range snipe from Brett Pesce after Saku Mäenalanen and Warren Foegele established possession in the offensive zone.
In the third period, things started to really fall apart for the Hurricanes in the defensive zone, but they were bailed out time after time by Darling, who was originally supposed to come out after the second period, but was left in to complete the game by Rod Brind’Amour and company.
That was the correct decision.
Scott Darling, showing off his flexibility. He's been ridiculously good tonight. pic.twitter.com/vHSAhlQeiB— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) September 26, 2018
Through breakdown after breakdown by his defense, Darling remained spectacular, and the team in front of him rewarded him with two additional goals.
Trevor van Riemsdyk fired a slap shot through traffic in front at 11:43 of the third period to make it 3-0. Valentin Zykov got his second assist of the preseason on the goal and obstructed the vision of Pekka Rinne at the top of the crease.
Just over a minute later, the Hurricanes cashed in on the power play to increase the lead to 4-0.
Brock McGinn was the only person on the ice who knew where the puck was as it flew up into the air in front of the Nashville goal, and he tapped it in past Rinne for his first goal of the preseason.
The Predators were, however, able to end Darling’s preseason shut out streak in the third period. It was another breakdown from Carolina in the defensive zone, and Ryan Johansen made it a 4-1 game with just under seven minutes left to play.
That’s how preseason game number four for the Hurricanes would end.
Once again, the Canes’ young and hungry lineup took care of business against an NHL-quality roster and came out with a win. They improved to 4-0-0 in the 2018 preseason while outscoring their opponents 19-4.
Scott Darling stopped 28 of the 29 shots he saw on Tuesday night. Warren Foegele (one goal, one assist) and Valentin Zykov (two assists) both tallied a pair of points.
The Hurricanes will look to remain undefeated in the preseason on Friday night when they visit the Washington Capitals. The Canes defeated the Caps 5-1 at PNC Arena last week.