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Predators open preseason with 3-1 loss to Carolina Hurricanes

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The Nashville Predators kicked off their preseason campaign with a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Bridgestone Arena. J.P. Dumont scored for the Preds; while Patrick O'Sullivan, Sergei Samsonov, and Erik Cole scored for Carolina.

Further recap and analysis after the jump.

The evening started off with a trip to the penalty box for Ryan Ellis, but the Predators dealt with that in short order. Patric Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn combined for some good puck movement behind the net and one great chance in front, which came to no avail.

Shortly after, though, a Carolina player turned the puck over to J.P. Dumont in the right slot, who waited, picked his spot, and fired the puck over the right shoulder of Justin Peters.

Pekka Rinne started the game in goal for Nashville, and it appeared as if he was in playoff form already. Late in the first, he slid across a wide open net to deny Drayson Bowman what we thought to be a sure goal for the Hurricanes. The first period ended with Nashville on top 1-0.

As the 2nd period opened, Rinne kept his composure despite a flurry of chances right in front of his net. It was a shaky performance defensively from Nashville, particularly in regards to Teemu Laakso, who had what I would term a horrific outing (multiple trips to the box, broken sticks, and missed assignments).

Speaking of broken sticks, one from Cody Franson allowed new Hurricane Patrick O'Sullivan to have a breakaway, which he put past Pekka Rinne's stick side at 4:46 of the 2nd. Midway through the period, Barry Trotz called on Mark Dekanich to go the rest of the game in goal.

Dekanich certainly didn't do his campaign to start the year in Nashville any harm, despite an early power play goal from Sergei Samsonov. Dex stopped the initial shot, but Samsonov put his own rebound up and over Dekanich's shoulder for a 2-1 Carolina lead.

As the game wore on, it appeared that most players were losing interest, or at least tiring. It got much cagier, and there was a steady parade of missed passes, trips to the penalty box, and poor defensive marking. The third period was marked by Jamie McBain of Carolina getting roughed up, first by a dangerous hit from Patric Hornqvist into the boards, and then when Jordin Tootoo rather rudely welcomed him to the NHL with a locomotive-like hit in open ice.

Hornqvist, Marcel Goc, and Taylor Beck were all afforded prime chances to send the game into overtime, but none could convert. Beck particularly was given an empty net to shoot in, but broke his stick. Erik Cole sealed the game for Carolina with an empty netter.

It wasn't the most desirable result, but there are certainly positives to be gleaned. The best one? That hockey is back in Smashville.

Game Notes
  • While its very clear that Taylor Beck and Ryan Ellis possess loads of skill, they're by no means ready for the NHL. Both players were consistently (read: every time) muscled off the puck or away from the boards.Ellis stated that the power play was "tough" and that they failed to "get pucks into the proper areas", which are all too familair problems with Nashville's man advantage.
  • Blake Geoffrion was by far the most impressive youngster to see ice time tonight. His game typifies the Predators. Geoffrion was hard working and physical, while at the same time not taking any silly penalties.Geoffrion said after the game that "things got sloppy in the 2nd" and that the Predators "had some chances they couldn't capitalize on." He was correct on both counts, and the honesty was refreshing. When asked if he had any jitters, the native Tennessean responded "No, not really."
  • Sergei Kostitsyn had his ups and downs, but mostly downs. Early in the game he seemed to relish in the offensive chances provided by skating with Hornqvist and Goc, but the rest of the night was marked by just standing around and turnovers. Barry Trotz saw something different, however, saying that "he did a really good job on the penalty kill, skated better offensively." It'll be interesting to watch Kostitsyn grow into a role with Nashville, that's for sure.
  • Jonathan Blum wasn't poor, but I'd guess he needs another year of seasoning in Milwaukee. I didn't see anything that led me to believe Alex Sulzer or Aaron Johnson are not the first choice 7th defensemen.