It was nice to be back at PNC Arena as the Carolina Hurricanes rode a two-game win streak into their battle with the Nashville Predators. Thursday night's win over the Detroit Red Wings was a tightly contested battle in which the Canes were able to capitalize on one big mistake. On the second half of a back-to-back, Carolina would be put to the test against a rested Nashville team.
The Canes rolled the same lineup for the third straight game, opting to play with seven defensemen. Antti Raanta would get the start in the net after Pyotr Kochetkov's excellent starts in Ottawa and Detroit to close the road trip. The Predators opted to start backup goalie Kevin Lankinen instead of All-Star goalie Juuse Saros for the first half of their back-to-back.
Nashville would put a temporary silence over Caniacs by scoring the first goal. A failed clearing attempt allowed the Predators to keep possession of the puck, eventually leading to Juuso Parssinen sneaking a weak backhander over the line to get the Preds going. The Canes' power play responded. The second unit got things going as Stefan Noesen redirected a shot from Jack Drury past Kevin Lankinen to get the Canes on the board. Less than two minutes later, Tony DeAngelo would get another one on the power play. His low shot looked like it was going to be tipped by Michael Bunting. Instead, it went under Bunting's stick and under Lankinen's pads to send the Canes into the break up by a goal.
There is no word in the English language to describe what we witnessed in the second period. Roman Josi would knot the game on a wrap-around early in the period. The Canes answered with not one but two goals. Jalen Chatfield jumped down from the point to tip a pass from Michael Bunting into the net 63 seconds later. Then, Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis combined for a beautiful give-and-go that ended with Aho blasting one past a sprawling Kevin Lankinen to take a two-goal lead 19 seconds after taking the lead.
Up 4-2, the Hurricanes looked to be in control. However, a goal on the power play by Ryan O'Reilly changed that. Filip Forsberg's shot from the point was kicked out, but no one was around O'Reilly to prevent him from burying the rebound. Once again, the Canes quickly got it back. An errant pass from behind the net by Alexandre Carrier bounced out to Martin Necas in the slot, and he made no mistake as the lead went back to two goals 25 seconds later. The Predators would cut the lead in half again as Tyson Barrie was sprung on a breakaway and buried it shortside on Antti Raanta. All of this happened in the first 10:18 of the period. The second half of the second period was far less eventful, ending with the Canes still in front by a goal.
It didn't look like the Canes' legs had gone anywhere once the third period began. On the second half of a back-to-back, they continued to skate with the Predators coming out of the break. The Hurricanes continued to get great chances to extend their lead, but nothing was going in. Nashville found the equalizer just past the halfway point in the period. In transition, Jeremy Lauzon buried a shot past the blocker of Antti Raanta to tie the game 5-5. The Canes controlled most of the period after the tying goal. However, the horn would sound as both teams guaranteed themselves a point. Overtime came and went quickly as the Predators won the draw, and Filip Forsberg scored 35 seconds later to secure the second point for Nashville in a wild 6-5 affair.
Let's start with the overwhelming positive from this game. The offense showed no signs of rust after being held to just two goals in Detroit. Nine different players found the scoresheet, including five different goal-scorers. Jack Drury has points in five straight games after being snake-bitten to start the season. Stefan Noesen has three goals and five points in five games. Martin Necas has started to get hot, recording two points in this game and four in his last three games. The defense scored two huge goals. The power play scored two more times. The penalty kill was good despite their kill streak being snapped. It wasn't the prettiest game, but the offense gave the Canes a chance to win.
All that being said, something is clearly wrong with Antti Raanta. The defense didn't do him many favors in this game, but some pucks got through him that a confident goalie probably doesn't allow. Of Nashville's six goals, there's only one that I can look at and say that there wasn't anything he could've done to keep it out, and that's the goal the Predators scored on the power play. Otherwise, all he needs to do is stop one of the other goals in regulation to get the Canes two points.
This loss doesn't fall entirely on Antti Raanta. While there are some goals you'd like to have back, the team around him made life difficult. Teuvo Teravainen's failed clearing attempt led to the first goal. Roman Josi burns Jordan Staal on his wrap-around goal. Twice, the Canes were caught below the dots, allowing the Predators to capitalize in transition. Brent Burns gets beat to the inside by Filip Forsberg to improve his shooting angle on the game-winner. Sure, you'd like for Raanta to get a stop, but the small details weren't there for the Canes.
The final four games before Christmas are going to be tough ones. The Canes will welcome the Washington Capitals to Raleigh on Sunday night for their first meeting of the season. Then, the defending champions will be in the house on Tuesday. A quick trip to Pittsburgh on Thursday will be the final road game before the break. The Canes will conclude the week by hosting the Islanders next Saturday.