Ward Out-Duels Rinne, Preds Lose to Canes
By Brett LaBombarda @bplabombarda
The Predators and Hurricanes helped get the early games started Tuesday night in Raleigh, with the home team in the uncustomary white sweaters. Nashville carried a solid advantage in shot attempts for the bulk of the first period, but with a strong push in the last two and a half minutes of the period Carolina quickly closed that gap. After eighteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds of scoreless hockey, a seemingly innocent play on the boards saw an Andrej Nestrasil pass redirected in by Jeff Skinner.
The Hurricanes carried that momentum into the early part of the first period. It wasn’t until 14:08 of the second that the pattern of trading minimal possession time was broken by a chance on a dribbling rebound to Cam Ward’s left. Not long after recuperating Pekka Rinne was forced to make a sprawling save himself and one on a Nathan Gerbe breakaway in the dying seconds of the period. Like the first, the period ended 1-0.
Carolina came out hot for a second consecutive period and were rewarded on Victor Rask shot from the top of the left circle – one Rinne would undoubtedly like back. Shortly after, Mike Fisher was called for a tripping penalty, but the Preds held strong. This seemed to generate at least some momentum as they were able to sustain at good chunk of zone time after the penalty kill. Nashville had to kill one more hooking penalty to Mike Ribeiro and did so successfully.
Around the 13:30 mark, the Craig Smith-Colin Wilson got the offense going again with a two excellent chances. The top line harnessed that momentum and made desperate effort to keep the puck in off an offensive zone faceoff loss and get Ribeiro in alone to give Ward the old backhand-forehand. Unfortuantely, that was all the Preds could muster despite a cluster of opportunities with the goalie pulled. Preds win the shot battle 33-25, but lose the game 2-1.
1. Jeff Skinner (1g)
2. Cam Ward (W, 32 saves)
3. Victor Rask (Game-winning goal, 3 shots)