The Nashville Predators, playing the second of back to back games, traveled to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes. The Predators welcomed their newest member of the team Andrei Kostitsyn to the active roster and paired him on a line with David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist. The Predators other acquisition at the trade deadline, Paul Gaustad, was scratched with an upper body injury.
Anders Lindback got the start in net for the Predators, while Cam Ward was between the pipes for the Hurricanes.
Lindback was looking for goal support from the team in front of him, as the Predators had been outscored 19-9 in his previous starts this season. The Predators obliged Mr. Lindback at 2:42 of the first period as the line of Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque, and Craig Smith went to work in the Hurricanes zone. Halischuk battled and got control of the puck behind the Canes net and flipped the puck out front. Bourque took several whacks at the puck and Ward could not control the rebound. The puck squirted out to Smith, who gathered it in and roofed it over the fallen Ward to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.
The Canes began to press the attack, but Lindback made some good stops to hold the Canes off the board. The Predators were out shot in the first period 13-8, and the period ended with the Predators on the PK with David Legwand in the box for high sticking and a 1 minute carry over of the Canes power play at the start of the second period.
The Predators had nearly killed off the Legwand penalty to open the second period when they were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Canes a 6 second 5 on 3 power play. The Predators killed off the brief two man advantage, but now had to kill off another penalty. The Predators were flirting with trouble with these penalties, bur fortunately were able to kill them off.
The Canes tied the game at 1 at 5:17 of the second as the Predators failed to clear the zone and Jamie McBain launched a shot from the blue line that beat Lindback. The puck deflected off Hal Gill and although Lindback got a piece of the shot, but it ricocheted off his arm and into the back of the net for the equalizer.
The Predators offense was non-existent in the second period, going over 10 minutes without a shot on goal. The Canes had totally dominated the Predators with shots on goal and zone possession. That changed at 12:31 of the period when Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo aggressively pursued the puck on the forecheck and forced a Carolina turnover. Wilson took a shot that hit Ward on the shoulder and caromed over, landing just outside the goal line. The puck had enough momentum to trickle over the goal line to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.
That lead was short lived as the Predators once again took another penalty. With Andrei Kostitsyn in the box for hooking, the Canes quickly scored on the power play as Jeff Skinner's shot bounced off Lindback and Eric Staal was able to gather the rebound and slam it into the open net to tie the game at 2 at 13:04 of the second. It took the Canes just 12 seconds on the power play to tie the game.
Once again, the Predators took another penalty as Shea Weber was in the box for hooking. and once again, the Canes made the Predators pay. With a scramble in front of Lindback, the puck was jammed past Lindback by Tim Brent to give the Canes a 3-2 lead at 17:24 of the second. The Predators had taken five penalties to none for the Canes, and their undisciplined play had cost them two goals.
The Predators played a horrific second period, mustering only 5 shots in the period to 13 for the Hurricanes. Their undisciplined play had cost them two different leads, and they were heading into the third trailing by one. It remained to be seen whether the Predators would come out and play their brand of hockey in the third period or if they would continue their lackluster play.
The Predators fell behind 4-2 as Bryan Allen came out of the box where he had been serving the Canes first penalty of the night and Eric Staal sent him in on a breakaway and he beat Lindback five hole at 1:28 of the third.
Gabriel Bourque answered the Canes score as he took a from behind the net from Jordin Tootoo and banged the puck past an out of position Ward from the low slot at 2:18 of the third.
The Predators play was markedly better in the third period, as they got shots on net and played with more energy, but could not solve Ward or the Canes strong forecheck and neutral zone defense. The final horn sounded and the Predators saw a game and two points they pissed away.
It is easy to say that this was an Eastern Conference opponent and it didn't matter that much if they lost the game. Bull hockey. This was two precious points the Predators threw away by their lackadaisical play in the second period. Trying to keep pace with their Western Conference opponents means that every point is dear, and to waste a game like this team did tonight is unacceptable and frustrating.
This team does not play again until Saturday, and I hope this loss burns for a few days.
The time to get back to playing Predator hockey starts Saturday.
My three stars:
1. Eric Staal
2. Gabriel Bourque
3. Jeff Skinner