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Poor start dooms Carolina

by Brian Compton /
For the Carolina Hurricanes, what transpired on Sunday afternoon at the RBC Center was simply a matter of too little, too late.
The Hurricanes allowed the Nashville Predators to score the game's first 4 goals before responding with 2 of their own, but Shea Weber's 10th tally of the season -- and his second of the game -- with 7:18 remaining iced a 5-2 victory for the Preds.
The Hurricanes managed just 16 shots through the first two periods despite having 7 power plays, with 5 of them coming in the first. They finished 0-for-8 with the man advantage.
''It just kind of set the tone for the game,'' Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. ''It was a reflection of our game. We back-seated it today.''
Jason Arnott scored his first of two goals at 13:59 of the first period off a feed from J.P. Dumont as the pair converted on a 2-on-1. Scott Nichol made it 2-0 with his second goal of the season at 2:45 for the first of Nashville's 3-goal second period.
Weber then tallied his first goal of the night at 8:42 via the power play. With Joni Pitkanen in the box, Weber took a pass from Ryan Suter and ripped a shot from the left circle past Cam Ward. Arnott then put the Preds up by 4 when his shot near the crease appeared to bounce off Pitkanen's skate and past Ward with just under 6 minutes left in the period.
"It comes down to winning the battles and in the first period I don’t think we won a battle, they were first on every puck,” Hurricanes forward Scott Walker said. “Even when there was somewhat of a bouncing puck they were getting it because they were more willing to get it. That’s unfortunate because we had been playing so well."

Weber credited Nashville's penalty kill as the difference in the game, especially in the early going. The Predators twice found themselves down 2 men, but managed to escape unscathed.
''That really boosted up the momentum,'' Weber said. ''The guys see the penalty killers doing a great job out there and really sacrificing their bodies. To come out of two 5-on-3s and not give up a goal is pretty rare, so we were fortunate."

Matt Cullen got the Hurricanes on the board just 32 seconds into the third period, and Chad LaRose cut the deficit in half with his fifth goal of the season at 6:26. But just as the Hurricanes killed off a tripping penalty on Niclas Wallin, Weber fired a shot from near the blue line into the upper right corner to increase Nashville's lead to 5-2 at 12:42. 
Dan Ellis stopped 8 of 10 shots in the final period and finished with 24 saves.
''You put yourselves in that hole, it's hard to overcome,'' said Cullen, whose goal was his first since Oct. 28. ''We gave ourselves a chance, but it was a little too late to come out as flat as we did.''
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was less than pleased with his team's start to the third period, but was more than happy to see his team snap a 2-game skid. The loss ended a 3-game winning streak for Carolina.
''We were hoping to do a little better job than that,'' Trotz said. ''I think (Ellis) played pretty good and we were hoping maybe we could secure maybe a shutout. We talked about keeping the opposition, especially on the road, to two goals and we'd have a chance to win. And we did that.''

Material from wire services and team web sites was used in this report.

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