Cary, NC — The Carolina Hurricanes handed the Nashville Predators their first loss with a 4-2 win in Nashville last night.
The game, on January 18, 2021, also served as a tribute to MLK Day and Willie O’Ree, who became the first African-American player in the National Hockey League exactly 63 years ago.
Reimer, Svech Perform Well in Music City
Andrei Svechnikov scored again for the third game in a row and looks very comfortable on the powerplay. James Reimer was in between the pipes for his first game of the season, making 31 saves while the defense did an excellent job of clearing the crease allowing Reimer clear vision for shots from up top.
Sparring to Start the Game
The Preds won their first two games against Columbus and they are a well-balanced team with Norris Trophy winner, Roman Josi leading the charge. Jordan Staal is still out due to COVID-19 protocol and could have made a difference in the faceoff circle where the Canes faltered, winning just 33%.
The first period was similar to boxers sparring every now and then with little hard blows to the body.
Much of the play was either along the boards or between the blue lines in the neutral zone. I don’t know if it was players’ speed, on-ice awareness or opportunities but there was very little of what is classified as a “hit” by either team. The Canes registered 10 while the Preds got credit for 14.
Only Jesper Fast and Brock McGinn were credited with 2 hits with 6 other Canes getting one. If forwards are doing their job forechecking, hits along the boards are part of the game. The Canes were able to get off 7 shots in the first, none really challenged Pekka Rinne who is always sharp in net.
Forechecking by both teams stymied most offensive threats. The Preds have the early threats but after the Canes settled in, you could see the ice tilting in the Canes’ favor. The first period ended with no scoring with Svech in the box for a tripping call, allowing the Preds fresh ice for a majority of the powerplay to start the second.
Svechnikov’s Laser Opens Scoring, Preds Answer Back
The man down defense led by Brett Pesce, Jacob Slavin, Ginner and Jordan Martinook again made life and looks easier for Reimer with the lanes cleared and Ginner’s relentless effort to get in the face of the Preds blue liners.
Losing so many faceoffs forced the Canes to start on defense rather than possession to either clear the defensive zone or start an offensive play. The penalty got killed and the momentum started going the Canes way. Late in the period, the Canes broke the scoreless tie while on the powerplay.
Sebastian Aho and Dougie Hamilton played catch a couple of times. Dougie attempted a pass over to Svech on top of the left circle but it went wide. Svech beat the defender to the puck, sending it back up to Dougie then went back to “his spot”.
This time Hamilton hit Svech with a pass on his tape. Svech took a stride and sent a wrister that is harder than many slap shots and with laser accuracy that found the back of the net. For the second game in a row, after a Canes’ goal, the opponents scored with less than a minute gone. Filip Forsberg, the only other player to score a Svech/lacrosse goal, got a Hail Mary 125’ pass that caught the Canes flat-footed and napping, and went in on Reimer all alone to tie the game.
Trocheck Capitalizes on Turnover
The Canes started the third with a purpose. On what looked like it should have been a simple clear in the defensive zone, a poor pass led to a turnover that Vincent Trocheck jumped on.
With Martin Necas racing down the left side, Trocheck used Necas as a decoy with only the one defender between them then sent a wounded duck wrist shot that baffled Rinne to put the Canes up 2-1.
Midway in the period, Jake Gardiner made an excellent defensive play deep in the Canes zone, grabbing the puck then sending it to Svech in the neutral zone. Svech gained speed with Seabass streaking down the left-center and a lone defender trying the impossible.
Svech lifted the puck over the defender’s stick with Fishy slamming home the puck off one bounce into the net for his first of the year on a really good looking play. The Preds scored on a powerplay due to a poor penalty by Warren Foegle for holding.
Niederreiter Seals Win with Empty-Netter
Foegs had a decent game but he’s taken too many penalties this early in the season. Roddy wants an aggressive type of play but not to the point senseless penalties are called. Nino Niederreiter scored an empty-netter off passes from Slavin and Trocheck to seal the game.
Teuvo Teravainen appeared to have some injury after the first, he only played on one powerplay then sat for the rest of the game. The COVID-19 protocol makes the taxi squad decision by the NHL look better every day. Go Canes!
Note: A rematch in Nashville was scheduled for tonight, but NHL officials have postponed the game with no new game date announced. In a brief statement, the NHL said the decision to postpone was “made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts.”
Story by Bob Fennel. Featured image and final score photos courtesy of the Canes and Predators public Facebook pages. Svech and Trocheck shots by Ashley Kairis. See more Canes coverage on CaryCitizen.
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