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Nashville Predators 3, Carolina Hurricanes 5: Comeback Interrupted

What Happened

The Nashville Predators started off the game proving why they have the identity of a team that’s hard to play against. Booming hits from Mark Borowiecki and company accented aggressive forechecking and tenacious play in the corners and on the boards. Despite the intensity, the Predators only had 5 shots on goal to the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3 mid-way through the first. Each team had around 1 quality chance. Borowiecki spent the entirety of the first broadcast timeout wincing in pain on the bench and talking with an athletic trainer, and eventually went down the tunnel about 9 minutes into the game. Unfortunately, Brady Skjei soon converted after being largely untouched from the wall to the front of the crease after a face off in front of the Predators net, putting the Hurricanes up 1-0.

Soon after, the Predators 4th line nearly made it a tie game. Michael McCarron has been getting some good looks in front of the net recently. Things got excited after a play near the Nashville net as Sebastian Aho delivered a crosscheck to the chin of Filip Forsberg. Forsberg retaliated with an immediate right hand to the face and a takedown. The fallout left the Hurricanes a man down. Almost immediately, Ryan Johansen was called for roughing against Vincent Trocheck, which the announcers said was heavily embellished, despite being a good call. The teams were left with a chunk of 4-on-4 time.

Things were getting spicy early, but the penalties eventually expired. Toward the end of the period, Andrei Svechnikov was called for elbowing against Mikael Granlund, putting the Predators on the power play once more. Despite a few good looks, the period ended before the Predators could find the net, and the teams would head to the locker room with the Predators trailing by one.

The second period started with Martin Necas taking a shot from his teammate to the knee, requiring a stoppage in play. He was eventually able to head down the tunnel under his own power. Mark Borowiecki did not return to the bench after the first intermission. About five minutes into the 2nd, the Predators got caught in a line change and the Hurricanes had a quick chance to make something happen. And they were able to convert, as Jesperi Kotkaniemi fired his own rebound into the net behind Saros to put his team up 2-0.

Around 8 minutes in, Filip Forsberg, with what looked like the Preds’ best chance in the first half of the second, found iron. After that, it just seemed like the Predators couldn’t really get anything set up. With about 4 minutes left in the second, Ryan Johansen was called for a crosscheck against Svechnikov, which sent the Hurricanes to the power play. It came at a critical time for the Predators as a 3-point deficit in the waning minutes of the 2nd would make for an awfully tough row to hoe in the third period. However, the Predators showed their penalty-killing prowess and handled the two minutes like professionals. Soon after Johansen returned to the ice, he set Luke Kunin up; Kunin sniped the top corner of the net behind Frederik Andersen to bring the Predators within one.

Unfortunately, Jaccob Slavin was able to put the Hurricanes back up by 2 with one second (!) remaining in the second. The teams returned to the locker room with Predators trailing 3-1.

The third period started with a line shuffle. Philip Tomasino played with Johansen and Kunin, while Forsberg skated with Jeannot and Sissons. Trenin was with Duchene and Granlund. This left Cole Smith skating with McCarron and Tolvanen. Tomasino made some noise in front of Andersen immediately. Although he didn’t score, hopefully he showed enough flash to make a case for moving up from the fourth line he’s been mired in for a long, long time. Matt Benning was crosschecked along the boards, which wasn’t called. Then, almost immediately after that Carolina once again found themselves on the power play when Michael McCarron was called for a trip. The trip, realistically, wasn’t intentional, but it was as much of a trip as that cross check against Benning was a cross check. On that power play, Svechnikov managed to score and put his team up 4-1.

Aho was soon after called for hooking and the Predators had their own chance on the power play. The power play yielded no return for the Predators. Saros looked magnificent in the even-strength play afterwards, stopping shot after shot, including a breakaway by the previously-penalized Aho. The Predators finally broke through when Filip Forsberg scored to put the Predators within 2.

This led John Hynes to pull Juuse Saros for the extra attacker early. The strategy worked out as Tanner Jeannot drove one home past Andersen to bring the Predators within one.

The Predators continued to press until Roman Josi slashed Aho’s stick (in half) to prevent him from shooting at the empty net. On the ensuing penalty kill, Saros headed to the bench. The Predators fought hard, but eventually, Svechnikov gained access to the empty net and scored to make it a 5-3 game with thirty seconds left.