The Nashville Predators made a rare appearance at the RBC Center in Raleigh Saturday and came away with a 2-1 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Pekka Rinne was an odd bounce away from his second shutout in a row as he stopped all but one of the Canes shots. The lone Canes goal was a shot by Joni Pitkanen that behaved strangely after being tipped by a defenseman’s stick.
“It was obviously a tough goal,” Rinne said. “It hit our D’s stick and it was bouncing. You just try to put it behind you and play the game.”
Jerred Smithson scored the only regulation goal for the Predators off of a feed by Jordin Tootoo at 3:53 of the second period.
In the shootout, Jeff Skinner and Cal O’Reilly scored in the first round. Marty Erat scored the game winner in the third round to give the Predators the win.
Cam Ward was the hard luck loser as he stopped 26 of 27 Predators shots including four in the overtime when the Preds applied pressure while Ward held firm.
The Canes missed two excellent scoring chances that could have led to a different outcome. At 5:36 of the first period, Skinner fired a wrister at the open side of the net that hit the post and caused a premature goal horn to be sounded.
Just 40 seconds into the third period Sergei Samsonov came out of the penalty box and had a breakaway that was stopped in a very athletic move by Rinne.
“At the end of the penalty he came out of the box and they got a big break and I was able to make the save, Rinne explained about the save on Samsonov.
Except for the second period in Toronto, Rinne has had five straight strong outings and is starting to look more comfortable in net.
“I feel pretty god and the team has helped me a lot,” said the Preds netminder. “The team has played really strong in front of me in Montreal and here. The game in Toronto was disappointing and after that we have responded really well.”
“Peks was really good,” head coach Barry Trotz said.”They scored their first goal on one of their weaker chances, sort of a bouncing ball which was unfortunate but he responded well after that. He gave us a chance to be really good”
As to the flow of the game when the Preds out shot the Canes 5-3 in the first period, Trotz explained, “They had a good first and had us on our heels a little bit. We made poor decisions coming out of the zone. Smithson’s line did a good job on Staal’s line and they were really dominant and got our goal on a turnover. Ward, Smithson, and Tootoo really had a good outing.”
The Predators were with out David Legwand who remains day to day and Ryan Suter who’s wife is expecting their first child at any time. Suter also aggravated his “lower body” injury in Thursday’s win against Montreal and will be reevaluated in Nashville.
The Predators left immediately after the game for Columbus where they will play Monday night.