By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night winning their third straight by a 5-2 score, in front of 15 016 fans at Bridgestone Arena. It was the first time this season that the Predators scored 5 goals. Nashville’s backup goaltender, Anders Lindback, saved 28 out of 30 shots. The Predators had a whopping 38 shots on goal.
Lindback got the start after it was confirmed Friday morning that starting goaltender Pekka Rinne suffered a knee injury and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
The Predators had a quick start, scoring three goals in the first twenty minutes. Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring at 2:33 of the first minute. Cody Franson took the shot and Hornqvist got the rebound and potted his sixth of the season. Shane O’Brien picked up the secondary assist, his second of the year. It was Franson’s fifth assist.
Carolina had an answer with their first shot on goal. Joe Corvo’s wrist shot got passed Lindback 14 seconds later. The shot hit Lindback’s jersey but kept going to the back of the net.
Before Shea Weber would score his fourth goal of the season, the Predators would kill off their 29th consecutive penalty. Shane O’Brien was sent to the box for high sticking at 6:33.
Weber’s goal was a slap shot half way through the second period. The goal was possible because of the work of a new line for Barry Trotz. In their third game together, Martin Erat, Marcel Goc, and Sergei Kostitsyn have been drawing penalties, creating chances, scoring goals and setting up others. Kostitsyn battled for the puck along the boards and was able to feed Erat who passed the puck to Weber.
When asked about the team scoring 5 goals for the first time this season, Weber said “It was nice. It was still close there for a while. We got some timely goals. We don’t expect to be doing that a whole lot, but if we can limit them to two goals we’ll be alright.”
The Predators scoring wasn’t over yet. The Erat, Goc and Kostitsyn line put the Predators up 3-1 after an excellent shift where the three forwards dominated play, Goc was able to sneak the puck past Cam Ward from the slot. It was Goc’s sixth goal of the season.
Forward Martin Erat, who set up three of the Predators five goals, says all four line combinations have found their groove. “Sometimes it takes a longer time to find chemistry in the lines. Right now all four lines are going good. We got goals from everybody. That’s important for us because they don’t know who to play against, who to match up against. That’s our team. That’s how we are built,” he said.
The second period was dominated by the Hurricanes. The Predators were forced to kill off another penalty. Jordin Tootoo was called for slashing. They did and that extended their penalty killing to 30 consecutive penalties. Shots on goal were 13-9 in the middle frame for Carolina.
The Canes got on the board when Jiri Tlusty scored his second goal of the season at 9:43 of the middle frame.
The third period had a little bit of everything, questionable penalties, power plays, and great chances and even goals.
Only three minutes into the final frame Colin Wilson was in front alone but unable to get a clean shot off and Ward was able to easily toss the puck aside.
Ryan Suter was called for boarding on Ryan Carter at 11:02 into the period. It was a questionable call as replay showed no boarding actually took place. On the power play, Eric Staal had an empty net to shoot into. His stick made contact with the puck, but it was bouncing and instead of going into the net redirected on the goal line and out to be cleared by Nashville.
The Canes were not able to score on the power play, extending the Predators penalty kill streak to 31 penalties. That number would be extended to 32 when Marcel Goc got called for holding but the Canes were unable to capitalize on their opportunity.
The Predators got their first power play halfway through the third period when Sergei Kostitsyn got hauled down by Tim Gleason who was called for tripping at 6:28. Nashville didn’t score but did posses the puck in the offensive zone and generated some shots on goal during the man advantage.
Nashville scored to take a 4-2 lead 16 seconds after the power play at 8:44. Off the rush, Kostitsyn passed the puck to Erat who sent it east-west across to Cal O’Reilly’s shot found the back of the net. It was O’Reilly’s sixth goal of the season.
Sullivan made it 5-2 when he scored an empty net goal. Carolina’s coach, Paul Maurice, had pulled the goalie with almost 3 minutes to play.
Additional Game Notes:
Marty Erat truly was the star of the game with 3 assists on the night. Erat also had 2 assists on Wednesday in Columbus. It’s safe to say that Erat is back in game form after missing several games to start the season.
JP Dumont has seen his ice time decrease dramatically. Dumont played only 4:30 minutes Saturday night. At the press conference after the game Coach Trotz said Dumont was not hurt and that the decision to sit him was a coaching decision.