RALEIGH, N.C. – It was a good start and a not so good finish.
Ryan Johansen’s top-shelf snipe handed the Carolina Hurricanes a 2-1 overtime loss at PNC Arena on Friday.
Jordan Staal was the Hurricanes’ lone scorer while goalkeeper James Reimer was tagged with the loss.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour summed it up to “game rust” as many in the lineup hadn’t played in a game in over a week.
According to him, there were a lot of positives.
“Goalies were good – a couple of guys played really well, and a couple of guys were really rusty,” Brind’Amour said.
“I liked the start; we came out really well. Our leaders were good early and then we had a lot of gaffs. A lot of game rust, it just wasn’t quite quick enough. Something we’ve gotta figure out.”
Being in the right place
While scoreless through the first period, Carolina carried the momentum it built up in managing puck possession and space without it into the second.
Staal opened the game’s scoring just 19 seconds in, while Nashville continued to try to keep pace.
By the midpoint the Hurricanes held a 2-to-1 margin in faceoffs won and kept the Preds pressed in their zone.
That became more difficult during that the latter half of the game.
“We got a lot of young kids out there, and they had their way with us a little bit, just in the battles and speed,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.
“The second period I thought was equal. I thought the best was our third – just from a compete standpoint.”
The power play continued to lack finish as Carolina went 0-for-4 on the night.
Working the puck at the top from the blue line and behind the net didn’t produce any results.
“There was some bad execution, that seems to have happened at times, but there was a couple of good looks that they had,” Brind’Amour pointed out.
“They (Juuse Saros) made some good saves on those. Obviously, that’ll be something I continue to work on, try to find the right combos.
While the Hurricanes didn’t pad the scoresheet, their goalkeepers worked hard to try to do the job in net.
After 40 minutes, starter Petr Mrazek stopped all 19 shots he faced.
“I felt pretty good,” Mrazek said.
“Obviously, it was just my second game. I was happy to be out there; so different than being out there in practice. The plan was two periods.”
Reimer made eight stops during the final 20 minutes of regulation time, while giving up one goal to Nashville’s Anthony Richard.
In the latter half of the overtime period, Johansen took advantage of the Carolina keeper’s deep position in the net to end the game with 1:14 remaining.
Paring it down
With the training camp roster cut down to 29, Carolina is closer to assembling its opening night roster.
Putting players into different situations is what the coach is looking for.
He’d rather have work to do than think all is fine.
“There’s a lot to get better at, but that’s good,” Brind’Amour said.
“That’s exactly what I expected would happen. I was hoping to see a little more chemistry with some guys. That’s why you play the games. I didn’t coach it to necessarily win the game. I’m coaching to put guys in certain spots to see how it would work out and some was good, and some wasn’t good.”
Sitting at 2-2-1 in the preseason, the Hurricanes will ice their final preseason lineup on Sunday afternoon at home against the Washington Capitals.
Notables: Defenseman Joel Edmundson made his preseason debut since being acquired from St. Louis in a trade for Justin Faulk on Sept. 24. He earned an assist on Staal’s goal…Mrazek’s play in the preseason has been exceptional – 25 saves in just over 70 minutes of playing time with no goals against…Carolina’s power play currently sits at 1-20, a 5% conversion rate.
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