NASHVILLE - The Carolina Hurricanes saw their 13-game point streak come to an end in a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
The Bottom Line
The Predators had everything to play for. They needed two points to clinch a seventh consecutive postseason berth. The Canes, meanwhile, had already punched their return ticket to the playoffs and secured first place in the division. With a partial, sizable and noisy crowd behind them, the Preds predictably came out with a physical push.
"It was a playoff atmosphere out there tonight," Morgan Geekie said. "We knew what they were playing for, and we tried to match that. I think we've got another gear."
"They were fighting for their playoff lives. They came out and showed that," Steven Lorentz said. "We had some good stretches where we took some energy and took it to them."
Luke Kunin's two goals - a backhander in the second period and a breakaway tally in the third - were the difference, but the Canes were never not in the game. Alex Nedeljkovic made 28 saves, and for much of the game, the Canes were a shot away from tying the score.
"I give my guys a ton of credit," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I thought we had a good bounce back in the third and played pretty hard."
In the end, the Preds came out on top for their first victory in seven tries against the Canes this season. It was Carolina's first regulation loss in nearly a month.
Seven regular-season games down, one to go. And then these two teams will gear up for their first-ever match-up in the playoffs.
"We just know that we have to match their intensity or get them back on their heels a little bit," Lorentz said. "We're not just going to sit back and be satisfied with our accomplishments this far. … Hockey is hockey, and at the NHL level you have to come ready to battle every single night."
Plus: Morgan Geekie
In the building where he netted his first career NHL goal two months ago, Lorentz helped the Canes get on the board in the third period.
Max McCormick's stick blade skied into the air on a shot attempt, but the puck still ended up on the stick of Lorentz. He skated into the slot and then slid a backhand pass through Erik Haula and over to Geekie, who kicked the puck to his stick and finished high over Juuse Saros.
Video: CAR@NSH: Geekie buries Lorentz's feed down low
"It was kind of a broken play," Geekie said. "Steve drew the defender and made a nice play through him. I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time."
Minus: Jaccob Slavin held out
After logging 7:13 of ice time in the first period, Slavin was held out of the final two periods of the game with a lower-body injury, a decision that was largely precautionary but worth monitoring, none the less.
"There was definitely something he tweaked," Brind'Amour said. "A little bit alarming there, for sure. It's exactly what you wouldn't want to happen in these kinds of games. We'll know more tomorrow, but I'm hopeful it's nothing too serious."
23:37: With the Canes down to five defensemen for the last two periods, Jake Bean logged a career high in ice time with 23:37.
26: This marked the Canes' first regulation loss in 26 calendar days.
17-4-1: In their last 22 games against the Predators, the Canes are 17-4-1.
Quote of the Night
"We're hopeful we'll get healthy and get a few guys back, which would be good. The process is what it is. We've got to get there first, get through the next game and then crank it up." - Rod Brind'Amour
The Canes will close out the regular season against these same Predators on Monday night.