Another night lacking execution occurred for the Nashville Predators in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the the Carolina Hurricanes took down the Preds 2-1.
The Predators were looking to end their three-game road trip on a positive note after losing each of the first two contests in the extra frame (overtime loss to Boston and shootout loss to Florida), but underwhelming goaltending and near-nonexistent offense cost Nashville.
After performing better on the offensive side of the puck in recent weeks, Nashville was back to their old ways: only tallying a single goal. The Preds have now scored one or fewer goals in a game a league-high 15 times.
Carter Hutton started in goal for the Preds, after Marek Mazanec played the night before against the Panthers (his fourth-straight start at the time). Hutton turned away 23 of 25 shots, but his night was defined by the only goal scored for the first 47 minutes of the contest.
Hurricanes winger Alexander Semin found the puck behind the Preds net and flipped the puck off of Hutton’s back and into the goal less than five minutes into the game.
A slow and deliberate second period played out between the two clubs with Nashville outshooting their competition, but the road team was held scoreless for the second-straight frame by the undefeated Canes netminder Anton Khudobin (now 5-0).
With both teams playing the night before, the pace of the game felt sluggish for most of the contest–with little offense to go around–as neither side wanted to make a costly defensive mistake.
Trailing to start the third period for the second-straight game, the Preds rallied again, this time due to their power play. Nashville finally solved Khudobin on their 26th shot of the contest when Patric Hornqvist shoved the puck into the goal off a quick behind-the-net feed from Mike Fisher (Fisher’s 10th point in his last five games).
But as it was for the other two acts of their three-game East Coast trip, a killer instinct was not on the Predators side.
Jeff Skinner scored his fourth goal against the Preds this season (in two games played) on a shot from the high slot with 3:32 remaining in regulation.
The Hurricanes got the crucial goal that has eluded Nashville for most of this season and the Preds will return home only able to claim two out of a possible six points on their road trip.
Nashville starts a five-game home stand Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks as the competition is only set to get more difficult (Sharks, Ducks, Senators and Wild all have better records than the Preds). You can see the Preds open their home stand against San Jose by getting your Predators tickets here.