The first period started fast with the Predators coming out physical. For the first time in years, the Canes looked equipped to match that physicality and even push the play in that category. Rod Brind’Amour decided to start with a line that showcased promising chemistry in Brock McGinn - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams.
Just over four minutes into the game Faulk missed an opportunity to spearhead a breakout behind the net and whiffed, leaving it for Viktor Arvidsson to walk it out and find the cutting Ryan Johansen who deposited it short side on Darling.
The Hurricanes were quick to answer just under three minutes later when Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn did outstanding work to get the puck into the zone. Staal carried the puck down the left side and cut back to find Williams alone in front of Rinne for the equilizer.
Later in the period Jordan Staal caught the Preds mid breakout and corraled the puck in the high slot pressed by Yannick Weber. He spun and found Williams on the back doorstep who couldn’t convert the chance. Still, the line showed a great mix of speed, skill, and physicality today. Just a few minutes later Dougie Hamilton wound up from the point and beat Rinne glove side but couldn’t beat the post.
Late in the period Kevin Fiala got in behind the defense and caught a stretch pass to beat Darling on the breakaway to put the Canes down 2-1. But just 20 seconds later Sebastian Aho answered after picking off a bad pass below the goal line and depositing it between Pekka Rinne’s pads. With under a minute to go in the first Aho had P.K. Subban pinned below his goal line for an extneded period of time. Growing frustrated, Subban drove his fist into Aho’s ribs, sending him to the ice and earning himself two minutes in the box. A relatively action packed first period ended up being the quietest of the three.
The second period was marked by an excessive amount of penalties from the Canes. Some of the calls were well deserved, but the referees were definitely calling it tight today. The Hurricanes would take five minor penalties, setting up Nashville to take the go ahead lead on the power play.
Just six minutes into the period McGinn was boarded hard by Miikka Salomaki and was very slow to get up. The game started to get noticeably chippy after that and the energy carried to the final horn.
About halfway into the second period Darling went off for what looked like a routine pre-season hand off to the backup. But we later found out that Darling sustained a lower body injury and would not return to the game. Petr Mrazek made some big saves on high danger shots in relief of Darling.
10 minutes into the period Warren Foegele took a boarding penalty and a visibly exhausted Hurricanes penalty kill conceded a goal to Craig Smith. The Canes went into the final intermission down a goal.
Calvin de Haan got the Canes tied up just a few minutes into the first when his slapshot from above the circle found the back of the net. After another penalty, Craig Smith found the net for the second time to give the Preds the lead yet again.
Later in the third period Teravainen was streaking into the zone and Subban caught him with a knee-to-knee. After Teravainen went tumbling to the ice, Micheal Ferland got into it with the polarizing defensemen. Ferland wanted to go, but Subban didn’t reciprocate that. So they got a pair of minor penalties for slashing.
As time ticked down the Hurricanes were still behind on the scoreboard. Martin Necas tied it up on the power play with a beautiful feed from Svechnikov and a screening Justin Williams in front.
The Canes forced overtime, but it only took 20 seconds for the Predators to finish the game when Ryan Johansson found the back of the net.
“This is a real game. All the other games were kind of half lineups, half this half that, and I knew coming into this that it was going to be a real test. And you could see the pace right away, right?”
“As the game moved on I thought we started getting towards our game but all the penalties and stuff sort of derailed that. I liked the pushback after the first period for sure.”
On Darling’s injury:
“Well its a concern. I’m not 100 percent sure what is yet, he tweaked something in his lower body when they were all over us there and he was diving all over the place to make saves. He was battling hard and something went in I think his hamstring area. Right now I’m not sure how long he’s going to be.”
On young guys taking a lot of penalties:
“Yeah this time of year, obviously this is the last game for that, but we’re ok with that. They’re doing everything they can and you certianly don’t want to pull the reins back on those guys, and they’ll learn.”
“For [Foegele] reaching in with the stick, you just can’t do that. And I think coming from the minors they don’t probably call that stuff, the nick-nack stuff I wish we didn’t call, but that’s how the NHL calls it so he’s just going to have to learn that.”
On high energy play:
“Well thats how we’re going to play. So you saw we gave up some chances being a little over agressive at times in our own end. That was just not taking care of the puck. We want to play aggressively and you’re going to have some nights like that.”
“We’re not going to get pushed around. That’s another thing management addressed and I like it. We’re not talking about fighting, we don’t want that, but just knowing that if you want to take a cheap shot at us we’ve got guys that can at least stand up, and I think everyone likes that.”
Per Rod Brind’Amour, the team will have a much needed day off tomorrow. They will practice Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to the season opener here in Raleigh on Thursday.