Juuse Saros made 33 saves, but the Carolina Hurricanes got the win in the shootout over the Nashville Predators, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon at PNC Arena. The result ends Nashville’s four-game win streak, just their second loss in their last 11 tries, but still gives them a point in the standings, now 31 on the season.
The two teams went back and forth in each period, combining for 71 shots on the afternoon, before eventually reaching the breakaway competition.
“It was a competitive game,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “They lead the League in a lot of categories with regard to offense and puck possession. I thought that they were a little quicker than us in the first period. I thought the second and third we played better and had our looks, had our chances, but traded goals and scored a big goal to tie it up and push it into extras.”
“I thought we could’ve played better defensively,” Preds Captain Roman Josi said. “They have a lot of speed, tough to defend, and we could’ve done a better job. But I thought Juuse was great.”
After Carolina took an early 1-0 lead, Viktor Arvidsson executed a masterful toe drag around a defender and drove to the net, beating Scott Darling top shelf for his ninth tally of the season and one of the nicer goals of the campaign to date.
The teams traded goals again in the second stanza with Mattias Ekholm giving Nashville their first lead of the afternoon before Victor Rask evened the score once more.
Carolina retook the lead in the third period, before Craig Smith’s eighth of the season sent the game to overtime where the Preds were unable to capitalize on a power-play opportunity. It was then off to the shootout where Carolina got the victory.
It was the first game for Saros since a two-game trip back down to AHL Milwaukee, designed to get the goaltender some extra playing time. And although Saros didn’t get the win on Sunday, those in charge weren’t discouraged with his effort.
“I thought [Saros’s] performance today was excellent,” Laviolette said. “They had 36 shots, so three goals on 36 shots, there’s a lot going on out there for him. I thought he played really well coming off of the L.A. game. I thought he played well, had a good game in Milwaukee and another strong performance here today, so I think he played well.”
Saros collected an assist on Viktor Arvidsson’s goal, the second helper of his career.
Nashville will now return to Bridgestone Arena for a four-game home stand, beginning on Tuesday night when the Chicago Blackhawks come to town for the first time since last spring’s postseason meeting.