RALEIGH — Whether or not tryptophan is a real thing is still open to question. If it is, the Carolina Hurricanes certainly proved on Friday night that its effect can extend long beyond a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
The Nashville Predators visited Raleigh on Black Friday and gave thanks for a laughably easy 3-0 win, dropping the Hurricanes to their second straight loss and leaving them with plenty of questions to answer. Pekka Rinne made 31 saves in the shutout win for the Predators, most of which were rather workmanlike.
It didn’t look like that early. In fact, if anyone, it was the Hurricanes poised to run away with the game, with Teuvo Teravainen shooting wide on Rinne on the game’s first shift and Jordan Staal the victim of Rinne’s larceny on three straight cracks from the doorstep a few minutes later.
But then Rocco Grimaldi’s goal at 8:15 tilted the ice definitively toward the visitors, and began a span of ten minutes of game time that Jake Gardiner would rather erase from his memory. It was his unforced turnover that sprang Grimaldi on a partial breakaway, and it was also Gardiner that lost Calle Jarnkrok on the goal that doubled the Predators’ lead. Haydn Fleury had lost his stick, and Gardiner had cheated over to help cover Fleury’s man, leaving no one to cover Jarnkrok who easily buried a one-timer.
Things went from bad to worse for the Hurricanes early in the second period, when Austin Watson tipped a Craig Smith point shot upstairs over Petr Mrazek’s glove and gave the Preds a 3-0 lead. The boos came out midway through the period as a Canes power play went to waste without the home team generating anything of consequence, and no one could blame the sellout crowd for making their feelings known.
The Predators barely had to exert themselves to stifle the Hurricanes, who were doing plenty enough on their own to take themselves out of the game. Lucas Wallmark exemplified the first two periods by skating directly into Ryan Johansen’s elbow and going immediately to the locker room, although he returned before the period was complete after he was cleared by the training staff.
After the second period the Hurricanes’ promotions crew unveiled a new T-shirt cannon, which immediately proved more proficient at finding the target than the actual team had been to that point.
As they had all night, the Hurricanes power play barely was able to cross the blue line with possession of the puck while up a man six minutes into the third, and the frustration became evident as shift after shift slammed the door to the bench on line changes. It was telling that Rod Brind’Amour never even bothered to mix up the line pairings to get something going, because up and down the lineup there was just nothing there.
Rinne, who had been pulled from three of his previous four starts, had to do little, and even less after Joel Edmundson took a holding penalty with 2:39 remaining. The Hurricanes have little time to contemplate their misery, as they will face the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road tomorrow night to try to put the stink of a miserable night out of their mouths.
They Said It
It was tough because I thought the start was perfect. Eight minutes, we had two or three great looks, didn’t give them anything, then they high-flip one out of their zone and it’s a breakaway in the net, and it kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit. When they got the other one, one of our guys broke a stick and we messed up and all of a sudden it’s in the net. It’s a tough period because I thought it was pretty well played overall.
It’s certainly frustrating for the guys. You can feel it. We have a game plan, we’re trying to stick to it, and you know they don’t give up much. They’re a stingy team. We did have the looks, we just didn’t put them in. The only disappointing part of the game for me was the power play wasn’t good, so that kind of took the life out of us. But other than that, it was there for us.
Those are the ones that are hard, because - again, that’s a real good team. It ends up being 3-0, but it didn’t feel like that. It felt like we were right there, and we didn’t capitalize. We have to find a way to get pucks in the net. They did, and that’s basically it.
It’s nice that you don’t have to think about it too much. You’ve got to prepare for the next game. There’s not a lot to dwell on, we have to look at a new opponent and re-focus on that.
[On Gardiner:] I thought he was better lately. I thought he came around. He certainly took his time, he knows that, to get adjusted, but I think he’s come around here in the last little while. Tonight, the couple penalties he took - one I didn’t think was a penalty. But that’s going to happen.
The one line [Teravainen-Aho-Svech] is getting a lot of opportunities. They’re dynamic when they’re out there, for sure. But we need other guys to find the score sheet. You’re not going to win if you don’t score. You can’t rely on three guys the whole time. I didn’t mind their game. I didn’t mind our group. We were not poor tonight, that’s for sure, we weren’t able to capitalize, and that’s it.
I thought we had created quite a few chances for ourselves in the first and second. They had a couple good goals, a couple high flippers, but we had to get some goals. Our PP has to be better if we’re going to get some more goals, and it wasn’t on tonight. We’ll keep plugging away at it.
We wanted to stay with our game, and I thought we did a good job of that in the first and second. The third kind of slowed down a bit, but they did a good job of clogging it up in the neutral zone, made it a little more difficult to make plays. They were sitting back quite a bit. We’re going to try to continue to have that start and have that mentality of putting pucks into the net. We create lots of chances, they’ll start going in and we’ll start winning some games.
Yeah, “one of those is going in” has definitely been our mentality. Our start was good, we were creating lots of chances, there were lots of grade-As, but they didn’t give much for second and third chances. I think they played a great road game, we could have been better especially on the power play to get some life into the building, and the fans - rightfully so - leaked out as we did in the third and we couldn’t generate enough to get our game rumbling again.
We had three or four pretty solid chances in the first ten minutes, and even coming in after the first we were happy with the period. It was kind of a flip and then two guys lose sticks. The first period we played pretty good, then you come out down two, and the second I thought was good except for two seconds by me with that fall. Other than that, we were pressing, had some more chances in the second. But that team, the style they play, locked down the neutral zone so good. So it was hard coming through there in the third, and we tried to be a little too cute in the third. Sometimes it just needs to get in and go to work. It was a way better game than it was in New York, so I guess we have to take some positives out of it and move forward for tomorrow night.
I believe that hockey’s a game [where] you create your own luck and your own bounces. Right now it’s not going our way, but the type of people we have in this room, the work ethic is not going to change, and when you have that as your staple going forward I think we’ll be fine. I think there’s definitely positives we’ll take out of that game, look at the things we could have done better, and try to bring it against Tampa.
- Tonight was the Canes’ first loss of the year in the black alternate jerseys. They’re now 19-5-2 in the black uniforms, including last year’s playoffs.
- It was also their first loss in the opener of a back-to-back this season. Incredibly, tonight begins the Predators’ first back-to-back of the year; it took them until Thanksgiving to have one scheduled, while the Hurricanes are in their sixth already.
- Rinne’s shutout was his 350th win of his career.
- There’s some serious concerns afoot with the Hurricanes’ scoring drying up. Gardiner was awful tonight. Nino Niederreiter still can’t find the net. Jordan Staal has one goal in his last 15 games. Brind’Amour understandably is keeping the Aho line together because any one of those players can take over a game, but doing so reduces the margin for error further down the lineup. When they can’t get depth scoring, it becomes a problem much more quickly, and that was the case tonight.
- The Canes skate at Tampa tomorrow night, then have Sunday off before practicing Monday in Raleigh ahead of their game in Boston on Tuesday.