The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Nashville Predators 2-1 in overtime on Friday night at PNC Arena.
Jordan Staal scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes, while Ryan Johansen tallied the game-winner for Nashville.
Here are five takeaways from the Canes' penultimate exhibition game.
1. Knocking Off the Game Rust
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour said he wanted to get a good look at his Opening Night group in the last two games of the preseason, so the team dressed a near-final roster for the first time since the second exhibition match.
The lineup structure in these games has been by design; the kids get a look early - and you see some, like Julien Gauthier, still sticking around because of what they showed - while the veterans knock off the rust just in time for Opening Night, which is in less than a week.
As Brind'Amour has said, it's about the process more so than the results.
"We had a couple guys play really well, and we had a couple guys who were really rusty. That's what you could see. I liked the start. We came out really well. Our leaders were good early," he said. "We had a lot of gaffes, a lot of game rust. That's what happens when a lot of these guys haven't played much."
So, there was some game rust evident in the penultimate preseason contest. That's fine - and expected, even.
Afternoon faceoffs are sometimes hard to gauge - just start with the fact that it's much earlier than a typical start time, which throws off routine-oriented athletes - but Sunday's preseason finale is a chance for the Canes to establish some momentum heading into Oct. 3.
"If you want to be the team you want to be, you have to have good habits. It starts now. It starts through practice and all the way through the regular season and hopefully the playoffs," Jordan Staal said. "It hasn't been sharp enough. The work ethic, at times, has been there, but it still needs to be higher from everyone."
"I was hoping to see a little more chemistry with some guys. That's why you play these games," Brind'Amour said. "I didn't coach it to necessarily win the game; I'm coaching it to put certain guys in spots to see how it would work out. Some was good, some wasn't good."
3. Edmundson Jumps Right In
Joel Edmundson hopped on a late flight Tuesday night and touched down in Raleigh in the early morning hours of Wednesday. He got on the ice with his new team for the first time on Wednesday, and two nights later, he made his preseason debut with the Canes.
He recorded an assist, a hit and a game-high four blocked shots in 19:02 of ice time, which included just over three minutes shorthanded.
"I thought Joel had a really good game for stepping in, not really having a good understanding of what we're doing. He seemed to pick it up pretty quick," Brind'Amour said. "I thought he was a pleasant surprise there."
Video: Brind'Amour: "I was hoping to see more chemistry"
During a shorthanded sequence in the second period, Edmundson blocked two shots in fairly quick succession, one of which stung him a bit. His teammates banged their sticks on the bench in appreciation.
There were certainly some people holding their breath, too; the last thing the Canes want to see is their newest defenseman injured in an otherwise meaningless exhibition match.
"That's his game," Brind'Amour said. "That's the foot on the gas, foot on the brake theory in preseason. You want guys to play hard, but you certainly want to make sure they're around to start in a few days."
4. Staal Scores
Staal opened the scoring early in the second period, as he skated in on an odd-man rush, held onto the puck and blistered a wrist shot that snuck through Juuse Saros' blocker side.
"It's always nice to see it go in the back of the net," Staal smiled after the game.
Staal recorded four shots on goal and a hit and won 65 percent of his faceoffs in 20:34 of ice time.
5. Mrazek Clean Through Two
Petr Mrazek was a perfect 19-for-19 through two periods of work before resting in the third period, as was planned prior to the game.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "I was happy to be out there. It's so different than being in practice."
James Reimer played the balance of the game and made nine saves on 11 shots, a tough task coming in cold after sitting on the bench for 40 minutes.
The Canes still have three goaltenders on their training camp roster, and Brind'Amour didn't commit to a plan for Sunday. The main goal is ensuring Mrazek, the starter, is ready for Oct. 3.
"He looked pretty good. It's all about getting him ready," Brind'Amour said. "Whatever he needs, we'll figure it out."
The Hurricanes close out the preseason on Sunday when they host the Washington Capitals in the centerpiece of the team's annual Caniac Carnival.