Just like in games 3 and 4 in Nashville, things did not come easy for the Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Give the Predators credit. Playing a bit conservative with two defensemen almost always behind the play and playing to force the Hurricanes to move the puck one zone at a time, the Predators have greatly minimized the Hurricanes ability to play transition hockey that is a strength. But despite the grinding style of play, another costly error and yet another round of the referees playing a bigger role than they should in the playoffs, the Canes gutted out a 3-2 overtime win.
The scoring summary had Nashville scoring first on an odd deflection that saw Nedeljkovic go down a bit early guessing when unable to find the puck. A deflection then floated over him and into the net.
The Hurricanes scored less than three minutes later to tie it when Martin Necas ripped a power play shot up under the cross bar.
The predators scored next early in the second period when an errant Brett Pesce drop pass at the offensive blue line sprang a Nashville 2-on-1 rush. When Dougie Hamilton was unable to take away the pass across, the result was a fairly easy goal from the other side.
Then with time starting to wind down in the third period, Martin Necas scored another crazy wrap around circling the net at full speed and defying laws of physics to reach back around from well behind the end line to beat Saros.
Finally, only 2:03 into overtime Jordan Staal scored the prettiest of ugly goals when Brett Pesce got the puck through to the front of the net.
Player and other notes
1) Jaccob Slavin
His return made a noticeable difference. He was physical his usual aggressive self stepping up to challenge the puck early and had a solid game overall. He assisted on Necas’ third period goal and should have had another on Staal’s goal that was disallowed in the second period. Most significantly, he solidified a defense that had been struggling. Here is hoping that his 26:08 of ice time means he was feeling well and not that he spent what he could after three games off and will have to do the same again.
2) The captain
Jordan Staal carried the team to a win in game 1 to kick off the series with a win, and though it was not pretty he scored another huge goal on Tuesday.
3) Martin Necas
A regular theme in my recent articles has been the need for the Canes young guns to rise to the occasion. Martin Necas did exactly that on Tuesday with two goals in tightly-played game. The third period goal was especially impressive. As per tactics all game, the Predators had a plethora of players back and in position to defend of the rush, but Necas’ individual effort was rose above. He split two defenders just outside the offensive blue line, was able to both carve a path toward the near side post to pull Saros over but then still swoop around them to the outside. Then finally he finished after beating five of the six Predators on the ice. I am on record as saying that the next step up for the Canes comes from the young players growing. Necas took a step in that direction on Tuesday.
4) Andrei Svechnikov
On the other side is Svechnikov who looked to be some combination of lost of just fighting it a bit confidence-wise. He seemed to have trouble both receiving and handling the puck all night. Most telling was probably the play where he had the puck in the defensive zone and pushed a short pass too far for a turnover and then a few seconds later had trouble receiving a short pass. Thus far, Brind’Amour has stuck with him on the top line but did push him to the second power play unit. Best bet is that Brind’Amour is thinking he has to get him going for deep playoff run.
Next up is a Canes After Dark playoff edition game in Nashville at 9:30pm on Thursday.