Predators 5, Hurricanes 2
Few losses can be explained away simply as a lack of power-play punch. But Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators ranks right up there in that category.
Sure, there was little emotion and even less battle among the Canes for the first 40 or so minutes despite riding a three-game home winning streak and an attempt to track down Washington for the Southeast Division lead.
But when you can’t register decent shots on net -- let alone a goal with the man advantage against the 28th-worst penalty kill on the road – there-in lies the root of the problem.
“We back-seated it today,” coach Peter Laviolette said of his team’s effort and intensity.
At one point midway through the second period, the Canes had seven power-play opportunities but just 14 total shots for the game as Laviolette tried every conceivable combination to get his club in the fight.
“It comes down to winning the battles and in the first period I don’t think we won a battle, they were first on every puck,” Scott Walker said. “Even when there was somewhat of a bouncing puck they were getting it because they were more willing to get it. That’s unfortunate because we had been playing so well.”
After finishing eighth in the NHL last season on the power play, Carolina came into the game tied for 20th at 16.1 percent – a stat that is sure to plummet after Sunday’s dismal 0-for-8 man-advantage performance.
And after tallying a hat trick in Friday’s 5-2 victory over Phoenix, Eric Staal
didn’t even scratch in the shot department for the first time this season. The last six times the all-star center has scored two or more goals he has been held off the scoreboard the following game.
Meanwhile, the Predators scored four goals on their first 14 shots, including three in an 11-minute span in the second to take command of this one.
The first two of the period were short-side shots that Cam Ward
wished he had back, while Nashville’s fourth goal hit Joni Pitkanen
’s skate and slide past the Carolina goalie.
Less than a minute after Patrick Eaves left with yet another shoulder injury in the second, Tim Gleason
went flying hard, skates-first into the end boards and was helped off the ice. The defenseman returned after missing about 12 minutes but left after a few seconds and didn’t return for the third period.
Eaves was in a sling after the game, while Laviolette had no report on Gleason, who was averaging 23:36 per game --- second-most on the team.
The Canes wasted five power-play chances in the first period alone, including two substantial 5-on-3 opportunities – a total of 1:57 -- which generated little offense.
“Whenever you get 5-on-3s you’ve got to at least create some momentum and we just didn’t do that and it kind of translated into our game the first couple of periods,” said Matt Cullen. “We know better than to think we can just show up and win a game.
“It’s frustrating because we’ve been building something pretty positive,” Cullen added. “To have it turn out like it did is really frustrating. We’ve got to turn the page right now.”
Less than a minute after Carolina’s second two-man advantage, Nashville struck on a 2-on-1 rush – the fourth time on this four-game homestand the Canes have allowed the opposition to score first.
“We just got outworked on the power play,” Walker said. “Sometimes when you go out on the power play you think that it’s going to be easy for whatever reason, but they have a hard-working penalty kill and are very aggressive -- but mostly hard work. We just didn’t get it done.”
Cullen’s first goal since Oct. 28, just 32 seconds into the third period, and one by Chad LaRose
seven minutes later gave the Canes a glimmer of hope. However, the club’s eighth power play resulted in yet one final fruitless attempt while Nashville iced it with a goal with 7:18 left.
“We have three wins recently, but the only complete game for me was Montreal,” Laviolette said. “The other wins, there are pieces of our game where we need to be better. I feel like we’ve yet to put together an attack on the net, on the body and on the puck that you need to in order to be successful.”
The Canes have allowed five goals in three of the last seven games. … Josef Melichar was back in the lineup on defense for Anton Babchuk
after missing the last five as a healthy scratch and assisted on the LaRose goal. … Carolina has allowed a power-play goal in seven straight games. … Ryan Bayda had his first point in five games when he assisted on the Cullen goal while LaRose’s goal was his first point in eight games. … Carolina is 5-4 at home this month with RBC Center games remaining Nov. 26 and Nov. 30.
|Three star selections