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Nashville Predators 2, Carolina Hurricanes 4: Depth struggles in Preds’ first loss

Hey again y’all, it’s Eamon here with another game recap. The Nashville Predators had their second big test of the season tonight, facing a good Carolina Hurricanes team coming into Bridgestone arena mad after a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. If that wasn’t enough of a trial, Nashville also had the extra variable of Pekka Rinne’s first start of the year adding some intrigue to this game. How did Rinne look, did the team help him out, and who were the standouts in a fun sixty minutes of hockey? Read on to find out.

First Period

The Preds got smoked out of the gate by Carolina, ceding most of the early chances and shot attempts. This could have been helped by an early power play thanks to a weak call by Wes McCauley and company, but the officiating crew quickly gave a makeup call to the Canes so there wasn’t much of an opportunity there. The JOFA line looked good early on but struggled to finish on a pair of chances; the whole team looked a bit discombobulated for the majority of the first.

Filip Forsberg almost snuck a shot past James Reimer, but the post saved the day for the Hurricanes and kept the Prince off the board. All in all this was an unfortunate period from Nashville, but the Preds managed to hang tough and keep the score even.

Second Period

The hockey in the first was deliberate, boring stuff for the most part; both teams seemed to be feeling each other out, but Carolina did so while largely owning play. This time it was Nashville’s turn to bully the opposition, with the Preds storming out of the tunnel and playing with purpose. Despite getting most of the early chances and shots, Carolina managed to get on the board first thanks to an Andrei Svechnikov shot that deflected up off Ryan Ellis’s stick and into the net. The Preds responded in kind with a Filip Forsberg breakaway goal off a beautiful Dante Fabbro stretch pass that elicited emotions I didn’t know Preds hockey could still produce in me.

Nashville continued to make smart plays, own possession and generate chances; Ryan Johansen notably walked through three Hurricanes players but just barely missed the finish, Matt Duchene had some opportunities but couldn’t put the puck in the net, and Viktor Arvidsson whiffed on a few chances before getting taken out on an iffy play that probably should have been a penalty. Arvidsson went down the tunnel but returned and looked fine for the rest of the period, so no issues there. We headed into the third period tied at 1-1.

Third Period

We opened the third with another shot off the inside post by Nick Cousins on an odd-man rush, keeping the score barely tied. The Hurricanes struck first in the final twenty with a goal from Vincent Trocheck off of a failed Rocco Grimaldi exit attempt; the net front coverage on the play wasn’t fantastic, but Grimaldi needed to be stronger on the puck there. Nashville continued to press hard, getting more chances and shot attempts, but the whole team looked incredibly snakebitten. The Preds had so many plays where they were inches away from a goal, but it was just one of those nights; nobody could put the puck in the back of the net besides Filip Forsberg.

The Hurricanes scored again off the counterattack with Sebastian Aho tickling the twine right after Johansen failed to bury the puck; James Reimer made incredible saves to keep the Canes in the lead. Nashville by no means played poorly, but the Hurricanes clearly showed the difference in scoring talent between the two teams in the beginning of this period. Side note: Dante Fabbro has looked excellent tonight by the eyes. Will have to see what his underlying numbers looked like tonight, but I’ll bet they’re pretty good.

The Preds managed a power play thanks to a needless Carolina hold in the neutral zone (an iffy call, if I’m being honest) and Viktor Arvidsson made no mistake, blasting home a puck that just…sat there in front of the net to make it a 2-3 game. We saw some more back-and-forth hockey, but eventually the Canes managed to pull out the win, and the empty-netter, after Ryan Ellis missed a wide-open shot from in close.

Three Big Things

  1. The Predators have a lot to clean up defensively with their forward group, specifically their fourth line. Pekka Rinne looked excellent tonight despite his final stats and was largely the reason this game was close; Nashville gave up entirely too many high-danger chances to a Canes team that can really shoot, especially with Svechnikov and Aho in the top six. While the Preds played a solid overall game, they really need to be sure to give a better defensive effort in front of their aging goalie in the future to minimize his workload.
  2. Dante Fabbro had one of his best games as a pro tonight, nabbing an assist with the aforementioned stretch pass and making a number of key defensive stops. I give the youngster a lot of flak for his struggles to produce offensively, but it looks like he’s finally getting more comfortable with making confident plays at the NHL level, and it showed. If Fabbro can keep this kind of performance up we’re looking at a legitimately elite blue line again.
  3. The fourth line needs a shakeup, and I’m not really talking about putting in Yakov Trenin for Mathieu Olivier; that group had a downright bad game against a team that could punish them effectively. Brad Richardson had a goal the other night, but I’ve not been too impressed by his performance so far this season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Philip Tomasino eventually bumps Colton Sissons down into #15’s current spot.

Postgame Listening:

For podcasts, I’d recommend going over to listen to OTF’s preview of the rest of this week’s games if you haven’t already. As for music to vibe sadly with, I present this offering:

It stinks that Nashville lost, but it was a solid effort. Good night y’all; see you tomorrow. Go Preds.

Talking Points