By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators edged the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 Friday night at the RBC Center in Raleigh and are now 1-1 in pre-season standings.
Mark Dekanich started in goal for Nashville, stopping 6 of 7 shots faced. The best scoring chance of the first period for the Nashville Predators came with 8 minutes left to play. Jonathon Blum came into the slot off the point for a point blank shot on Hurricanes goalie Justin Pogge. The play looked more like the offensive prowess of San Jose’s Dany Heatly, always finding open room in the slot for a quick wrist shot out of nowhere. Pogge was able to handle the play, but it’s a good sign if Blum can continue to develop his solid defensive play while adding a new offensive dynamic, keeping the California native competitive with Ryan Ellis for a spot in the Predators organization.
It was a scoreless first period until 5 minutes left to play when Predators defenseman Aaron Johnson got called for holding on Patrick O’Sullivan. Seconds later the Predators were called for too many men on the ice and Patrick O’Sullivan scored on the 5 on 3 man advantage to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead into the second period. The goal was O’Sullivan’s second tally in as many nights.
The Predators offense kicked in during the second period with what appeared to be a certain goal at 5:15 of the middle frame, when Pogge passed the puck to David Legwand, leaving Legwand an open net to shoot into. After a quick panic, Pogge was able to get recover and get back into position before Legwand was able to get the shot off. Legwand wouldn’t be denied when 2 minutes later Pogge left the puck behind the net with no Carolina defenders to take the puck up the ice. Legwand saw the miscommunication, grabbed the puck and pulled the wrap around to tie the game.
Nashville took a 2-1 lead when, with 7:45 to play in the 2nd, Jordin Tootoo scored a beauty off the rush. It was nice to see the Predators carry the puck across the blue line rather than only playing the dump and chase game.
Halfway through the second period, Anders Lindback took over for Mark Dekanich in goal for Nashville. Lindback saved all 15 shots he faced, included two incredible saves in the last 3 minutes of the game against Jussi Jokinen and 2010 first round (7th overall) draft pick Jeff Skinner. The race is officially on for who will back up Pekka Rinne when the puck drops on the 2010-2011 NHL season.
It was nice to hear Predators color commentator Terry Crisp on the Hurricanes radio. Kudos is also due to the Hurricanes organization for live streaming the pre-season game on their website for fans not in attendance.
The Predators play their third game in as many nights Saturday at Bridgestone Arena against the Washington Capitals. Game time is at 7 pm.