The final dress rehearsal for the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t disappoint. Dressing their full complement of players, the Hurricanes closed the preseason with a great team effort, a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators.
Unlike the Canes on Thursday night in Nashville, the Predators sent many of their regulars to play in this game, led by captain Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg. Carolina opted for an 11/7 look, starting presumed Opening Night goalie Frederik Andersen in the net. The final preseason game would give us a good look at the Hurricanes at full strength in all aspects. If this is a glimpse into what we can expect this season, the Caniacs are in for a treat.
The Canes dominated the first period. Everyone was throwing shots at Predators goalie Kevin Lankinen. After earning an early power play, Teuvo Teravainen snapped a shot from the left dot through traffic past Lankinen to get the Canes off and running. The chances kept coming for the Canes, but they couldn’t get another across the line, finishing the period with a 13-5 edge in shots and a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.
Aided by two penalties late in the first period to give Nashville an extended 5-on-3, the Predators held most of the momentum in the second. While Frederik Andersen had looked great, a puck eventually alluded him. Yakov Trenin threw the puck toward the net from the boards, and it deflected into the net off the skate of Jordan Staal, tying the game late in the period. Knowing they hadn’t played their best period, the Canes ceased momentum back in the final minute. Michael Bunting and Sebastian Aho did great work behind the net to force the puck to the front. Waiting to pounce was Seth Jarvis, and he lifted it past Kevin Lankinen to put the Canes back ahead before the break.
The late goal would carry into the third period for Carolina. They had many chances to extend their lead, but Kevin Lankinen stood on his head. Chance after chance was being turned away as the Canes continued to push. Martin Necas, who played an outstanding game, finally solved Lankinen, snapping a shot from the slot off the iron and in to extend the lead with 4:38 left. The Hurricanes added another goal 23 seconds later as Sebastian Aho fed Michael Bunting for his third preseason goal to put the game away, as Carolina finished the preseason in the win column.
Every facet of the Canes’ game clicked on Friday night. The power play scored a goal. The penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4, including a big 5-on-3 kill. The forwards were applying pressure on almost every shift in the offensive zone. The defense threw shots at the net from every angle to create chances. They looked like a well-oiled machine in their first game as a full squad.
The chemistry between Sebastian Aho, Michael Bunting, and Seth Jarvis was especially noticeable. Bunting has been impressive in his first preseason with the team, so seeing him mesh with two players the Canes will rely on for scoring is an encouraging sign. Dmitry Orlov also shone early in the game. He and Tony DeAngelo could be an excellent fit together. Frederik Andersen closed the preseason with a great showing, stopping 22 shots and allowing just two goals in two appearances. Friday’s win was also big for Martin Necas and Teuvo Teravainen, the latter of whom is looking to bounce back after a tough season.
With the Hurricanes making several cuts on Friday before the game to trim the roster to 30 players, there are still plenty of moves left to make. Ryan Suzuki, Vasily Ponomarev, and Felix Unger Sorum are among the notable players left on the roster before final cuts are expected in the coming days. Now that the preseason schedule has ended, everything from here is for real. The season begins Wednesday for the Hurricanes against Ottawa before heading west for a long road trip with the North Carolina State Fair in town.