Nashville Predators 5, Carolina Hurricanes 3: Saros steals one for overrun Preds

Juuse Saros was absolutely phenomenal; his teammates were opportunistic enough to reward him.

The Nashville Predators started a season-defining road trip today, facing the powerhouse Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Max Pacioretty, acquired during the offseason, played his first game for the Canes after injury, while the Preds brought their familiar roster.

The game started off at a fast pace, with the Canes challenging early and the Preds getting some chances of their own. A little over six minutes into the lively back and forth, Mikael Granlund took an interference penalty and the Canes’ power play got to work. Despite the Preds’ efforts, Carolina was able to score—the goal coming from Paul Stastny at 7:41—and then followed that up with a barrage of chances, forcing Juuse Saros to make save after save on what felt like sure things.

Nashville got a chance to make it up when Teuvo Teräväinen took a tripping penalty. Roman Josi broke up a great shorthanded chance, and when the play went back the other way Filip Forsberg was able to convert a pass from Jusso Pärssinen to tie the game 1-1. A few minutes after that, Jordan Martinook was called for slashing; this time, Carolina was able to kill the penalty, with Teräväinen getting a shorthanded shot on goal just as time ran out.

More penalties arrived to finish off the first period, as Mattias Ekholm allowed himself to interfere with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was called for embellishment on the play. The period ended without further score, but Brady Skjei scored 35 seconds into the second period to put the Canes up 2-1. Ekholm responded just over two minutes later with a long shot that went right past Canes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov to tie the game again.

Carolina continued to pile on the pressure as the period continued, until halfway through the period Jordan Staal collected an excellent cross-ice pass from Jesper Fast and made it 3-2 Hurricanes. Nino Niederreiter almost managed to tie it back up again shortly after, but Kochetkov made a fantastic save.

A moment later, though, Cody Glass gave the Preds the 3-3 tie. Unfazed, the Canes continued their attack, interrupted only briefly when Brent Burns took a penalty. The Canes’ penalty killers were fantastically aggressive, pushing play back down the ice and challenging Saros even shorthanded.

The third period began with Carolina once again pressing the attack, but the Preds found a way to push back, and five minutes in Ryan Johansen set up Mark Jankowski for the Preds’ first lead of the game. However, just after that, Sebastian Aho drew a penalty, Alexandre Carrier headed to the box, and the Hurricanes got a power play to try to tie the game again.

While the Preds were able to kill the penalty by Carrier, the Canes continued to press the attack even once he was released from the box. The period continued in that vein, with Saros making save after save and the Preds finding no offense at all, until Tanner Jeannot took a hooking penalty with 3:40 remaining in regulation.

Jeremy Lauzon managed to block what looked like a sure goal by Andrei Svechnikov late in the power play, and Jeannot was released from the box as Kochetkov headed to the bench for a sixth Carolina skater. The Preds missed the empty net the first time, but Colton Sissons secured the empty-net goal to make it 5-3 with under three seconds left, after some questionable missed calls that might have given the Canes another power play.

The Hurricanes set a franchise record for shots on goal in a regulation game with 67, while Juuse Saros’s 64 saves surpassed Dan Ellis’s 54-save game from 2008.