The Nashville Predators gave up more than four goals for the first time since Nov. 10 (at New Jersey) in a 5-2 loss to Carolina on Thursday night.
“They just pounced on our chances overall,” defenseman Victor Bartley said. “We turned a couple pucks over, we didn’t win battles. With the offense that they have, they were able to put the puck in the net.”
Things got off to a quick start at Bridgestone Arena, as Carolina’s Justin Faulk picked up a loose puck in Nashville’s end and fired it past Marek Mazanec at the 23-second mark. Although the goal went unassisted, Eric Staal made a good play to steal the puck away from Roman Josi en route to the goal. Faulk’s marker would stand as the lone goal of the opening period.
Nashville got off to a quick start of its own in the second period when Mike Fisher tipped a Bartley shot past Justin Peters just 50 seconds into the middle frame. The goal was Fisher’s fourth goal in his last six games, tying him with Shea Weber for the team goals lead (7).
“It’s been a long time since I had a point so that was definitely nice to get,” Bartley said. “Fisher did a great job getting on the net, and Jones made a nice pass to me. We had some traffic and good things happened.”
The Preds kept their foot on the pedal, scoring again just 1:51 later, as Viktor Stalberg received a pass from Nick Spaling and broke into the zone, two-on-one with Spaling. Stalberg’s first shot was turned away by Peters, but the speedy Swede circled the net, grabbed his own rebound and drove it home for his third goal of the season.
Nashville held the 2-1 advantage for a little more than three minutes before Jeff Skinner fired a shot past Mazanec to even the score. It was all Carolina from there, as Riley Nash pocketed his second goal of the season at the 11:51 mark, and Skinner tallied his second of the game with 52 seconds remaining in the frame.
“Their top guys were good tonight and we didn’t have a match for them,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “Some of our top guys weren’t on today. I think our core wasn’t as strong. Every moment counts, and those little moments where we forget a play or we’re not ready to play cost us. They got four goals in 13 shots, that’s not a good night for us.”
Mazanec’s night came to an end when Carter Hutton led the team onto the ice for the third period. Hutton turned away nine Hurricane shots, but Skinner’s empty-netter with two minutes remaining completed the hat trick and iced the Preds, 5-2.
“We’re going on the road, so maybe we’ll simplify things,” defenseman Kevin Klein, who returned to the lineup on Thursday night, said. “There were some turnovers tonight that we could definitely eliminate. When you give teams like that the transition speed, they can really kill you. They capitalized on their chances tonight. We have to come back better next game.”
The Predators had gone three games without recording a multi-goal period until tonight’s second period.
Nashville totaled 25 blocked shots on the night – 17 more than the Hurricanes.
Tonight was the first time in four games that Nashville has been limited to under 30 shots.
Viktor Stalberg ended a personal eight-game scoring drought with his marker at 2:41.
Victor Bartley's assist on Mike Fisher's goal was his first point of the season.
Roman Josi totaled six blocked shots in the game – the same number as the entire Hurricanes’ squad. Entering tonight, the Swiss blueliner had accumulated 30 blocked shots in his 18 games. Josi also led Nashville in shots on goal (3; tied with Fisher and Stalberg) and total shot attempts (6).
Rookie defenseman Seth Jones led the Predators in ice time with 24:40.
Defensemen Kevin Klein (5) and Victor Bartley (4) combined for nine of the team’s 13 hits.