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Canes start road trip against Rinne-less Predators

by Brian Hunter /
HURRICANES (11-11-3) at PREDATORS (11-8-5)


Last 10:
Carolina 3-4-3; Nashville 5-3-2

Season series: This is the second and final meeting of the season between these teams. Nashville earned a 2-1 shootout win in Carolina on Nov. 20 with Cal O'Reilly and Martin Erat scoring in the penalty-shot tiebreaker to negate Jeff Skinner's opening goal.

Big story: Pekka Rinne won that shootout against the Hurricanes and three others this season, including Wednesday's 4-3 victory against the Blue Jackets, but the Predators will be without their No. 1 goalie for the next 2-4 weeks after he was diagnosed with a knee injury on Friday. Anders Lindback, who went 3-0-1 when Rinne missed time in October but has made only four appearances and two starts since his return, becomes the top man and Mark Dekanich was called up from AHL Milwaukee.
Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Four goals in his first 24 games probably wasn't the start Brandon Sutter envisioned following his breakthrough 21-goal sophomore season for Carolina, but he found his scoring touch at an optimal time Friday night against visiting Colorado. Sutter scored off the rush 1:16 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 win after Skinner and Milan Hejduk traded goals in the third period. Cam Ward was solid, stopping 34 shots.

"I think at first I wasn't shooting enough pucks or getting enough pucks to the net," Sutter said. "So that can kind of hold you back, for sure. It takes a couple of games in a row to get a couple of goals and it's just a bit of streak and then right back on pace. So I'm just going to try and keep playing good defensively and try and create some offense."

Predators: Rinne's injury comes at a time when Nashville is looking to make a move in the Central Division, having won its last two after an 0-2-2 stretch. After letting a 2-1 lead slip away in the third period at Columbus, the Predators rallied to force overtime on Kevin Klein's goal with 8:22 remaining. Rinne was perfect in the shootout and Steve Sullivan scored in the second round for the victory.

"It looked better on film than how it went through in my mind," he said of the deke he put on Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason before tapping the puck into an empty net. "There was a little bit of panic, I'm not going to lie, when I got to the hash marks and the puck was bouncing a little. The play I had designed in my head, that's not what developed."

Who's hot:
Ward is 3-1-2 over his last six starts for the Hurricanes, which include four games where he's allowed one goal or less. … Colin Wilson has 2 goals in the last three games for the Predators.

Injury report:
In addition to Rinne's injury, Nashville has forwards Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and David Legwand (lower body) on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
Erik Cole had a couple shots and a plus-2 rating Friday in playing his 500th career game for the Hurricanes. … The Predators have gone eight-straight games without allowing a power-play goal, a new franchise record.

Puck drop:
This is the start of a five-game road trip for Carolina, which also makes stops in Dallas, St. Louis, Florida and Atlanta before returning to the RBC Center for a Dec. 18 game against Anaheim.

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