NASHVILLE - The Carolina Hurricanes fought back from a four-goal deficit to draw within a goal of tying the game in the third period but fell 6-3 to the Nashville Predators in the 2019 NHL Prospects Showcase finale.
Finnish forwards Janne Kuokkanen and Eetu Luostarinen each recorded a goal and an assist, and first-round pick Ryan Suzuki netted his third goal of the Showcase.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday afternoon's match.
1. A Rough Start
The Hurricanes got buried in a quick 4-0 hole in the first period, and if not for Jeremy Helvig, it could have easily been a wider deficit. Helvig came up with a pair of quality stops early when it was scoreless, turning away a shorthanded breakaway chance and making a diving stop on another grade-A scoring opportunity.
"I thought he played really well today," Warsofsky said of Helvig, who was originally supposed to play half the game but remained in net in what was a much-improved second period for the Hurricanes.
2. Fighting Back
The Hurricanes charged back in the second period, netting a pair of goals to slice their deficit in half.
Kuokkanen found Luostarinen in front on the power play, and Luostarinen tapped in his own rebound to get the Canes on the board. With just six seconds left in the period, Kuokkanen netted a goal of his own to make it a 4-2 score.
"That was a big goal," Warsofsky said. "Those guys pushed."
Before the first game, Warsofsky said he hoped the two Finns would develop a bit of chemistry, and they certainly seemed to have found it.
"A couple of Finn guys," Luostarinen smiled. "We can talk in our own language. That makes it easier. It helps on the ice."
3. A Chance to Tie
Suzuki whacked in an elevated centering feed in the third period to bring the Hurricanes within a goal. The Canes then had a two-man advantage for 62 seconds, but, outside of a couple of Chase Priskie one-timers from the right circle, they couldn't connect. Nashville reestablished their two-goal lead shortly after and then found the empty net to preserve their unblemished record in this year's Showcase.
"We gave ourselves a chance to tie the game up," Warsofksy said. "I thought our guys responded in the second and third, which is impressive for a young group."
The goal of this weekend was multi-fold. The Showcase, for one, set a competitive stage for an introduction to Hurricanes hockey and what it takes to play at the next level.
"[They learned] what it takes to play for the Carolina Hurricanes, the mindset and philosophy we have," Warsofsky said.
It also provided another opportunity for each of the players, prospects and invites alike, to improve their games.
"You hope that, individually, they get better. Skill development, whether in the video room or on the ice, they're learning. That's the most important thing," Warsofksy said. "I thought we got better each and every game. There were some inconsistencies in our game, but that comes with the age of some of these kids. They're just learning this game and the pro hockey style. It was impressive to see."
5. Off to Raleigh
It's back to Raleigh now for Hurricanes training camp, which first gets on ice on Friday morning.
The hope is that a number of these players can use their performances in this Showcase as a confidence springboard heading into camp.
"I'm looking forward to it," Luostarinen said. "I haven't been there yet, so big expectations."
"They can now have some confidence in how they need to play," Warsofsky said.
2019 NHL Prospects Showcase