Every NHL player has a bad game. How you respond goes a long way in determining your success over the course of an 82 game regular season.
Nino Niederreiter was coming off his worst game as a Hurricane. In at least one respect, he was coming off the worst game by any Hurricane, ever. Niederreiter recorded a plus/minus of -6 against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, the worst plus/minus rating in the Hurricanes’ history. He responded with a two goal night in Nashville that led his team to a 5-3 victory.
The first period began with a ton of whistles as the Canes drew three straight penalties in the opening minutes. An early 5-on-3 advantage went to waste as the Canes continue to struggle to find confidence in that scenario. After killing off a Nashville powerplay, Carolina opened the scoring off a beautiful neutral zone play from Niederreiter. After initially blocking a pass with his skate, Niederreiter knocked the puck out of mid-air then toe-dragged to create room for a wrist shot from the dot which beat Predators’ goaltender Juuse Saros high to the glove side.
Nino added his second goal on an abbreviated powerplay. Nashville had been on the man-advantage but were whistled for a penalty due to having somewhere between 6 to 10 skaters on the ice. Nino cashed in by tipping a shot past Saros with only one second remaining on the powerplay.
In the second period, Nashville controlled the better of the play. Craig Smith pulled Nashville back to within one on a rocket which beat Mrazek high on the blocker side. A late penalty by PK Subban lead to an early powerplay in the third for the Canes.
Justin Williams scored the second power play of the night just shy of a minute into the third as a point shot from Teuvo Teravainen deflected off of him and found its way past Saros. Brian Boyle quickly cut the lead back to one as he chipped a rebound past Mrazek after shaking free of Brett Pesce in front of the net. However, on a bounce back night for the Canes, Pesce kept with the theme and would add an assist on what would turn out to be the game winning goal. Pesce jumped into the rush and fired a wrist shot from the slot. Saros made a kick save which Jordan Martinook was able to collect and somehow fire under the sprawling Saros to re-establish a two goal cushion for the Canes.
A bizarre sequence pulled the Predators within one after Saros was pulled for the extra attacker in the game’s waning minutes. A Mikael Granlund goal appeared to be waved off on the ice due to goaltender interference by Brian Boyle, then reviewed with the on-ice decision upheld, then overturned due to a challenge. The league explained the actions post-game:
At 17:31 of the third period in the Hurricanes/Predators game, Nashville requested a Coach’s Challenge to review the “Interference on the Goalkeeper” decision that resulted in a “no goal” call.
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Referee, the Situation Room determined that the actions of Carolina’s Jordan Staal caused Nashville’s Brian Boyle to contact Petr Mrazek before the puck crossed the goal line. The decision was made in accordance with Note 2 of Rule 78.7 (ii) which states, in part, that the goal should be allowed because “the attacking Player was pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending Player causing the attacking Player to come into contact with the goalkeeper.”
Therefore, the original call is overturned - good goal Nashville Predators.
Since the Coach’s Challenge resulted in the original call being overturned, the Nashville Predators retain their time-out.
In the end, the goal did not impact the outcome as Sebastian Aho buried an empty-netter in the final seconds to secure the two points for the Canes, and a personal best 30-goal season for himself.
Notes: Teuvo Teravainen and Brett Pesce each had two assists on the night. Sebastian Aho, Justin Faulk, and Lucas Wallmark each added an assist. Petr Mrazek recorded 31 saves on 34 shots on goal, securing his 17th win of the season. The fourth line had a rough night, with each forward going -2 for the game. Michael Ferland did not travel with the Canes after sustaining yet another injury in the loss to the Jets.
The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in regulation, splitting their back-to-back games. The Canes’ win pulls them even with Pittsburgh on points (81) and keeps them ahead of both Columbus (79) and idle Montreal (79). They also picked up 2 points on the New York Islanders (85) who lost 5-2 to the Philidelphia Flyers.
Up Next: The Canes travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche on Monday night.