For just the fourth time in their last 17 games, the Nashville Predators ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, with a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at PNC Arena. The result keeps the Preds winless in five tries against Carolina this season, and they remain at 49 points and in the fourth spot in the Central Division.
Erik Haula scored the lone goal for the Preds on the night, but after Nashville was unable to convert at the start of the game, Carolina carried the play for most of the evening.
Video: Haula scores a goal in Preds' 4-1 loss to Canes
"We had a really good start," Haula said. "We were jumping, and then they got a late goal there in the first, then seemed to carry it in the second a little bit. We weren't at our best in the second, and I thought that was the difference in the game."
Video: Coach Hynes outlines reasons for 4-1 loss to Canes
"We did get off at the start of the game, had a good first period, hit some posts, had the power play; we had chances to get up early in the game in the first period but I didn't think we responded really well after the first period goal against into the second," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. "Sometimes you credit the opponent too. I thought they played much better than we did in the second period, and they were just on top of us. Our puck execution, we couldn't get up and get going with half ice in that period, and then I'd say they were the better team in the second and third."
The Predators hit the post twice in the opening period, but the Hurricanes had a 1-0 advantage after 20 minutes, as Warren Foegele beat Preds goaltender Juuse Saros late in the frame.
Video: NSH@CAR: Haula makes it 3-1 with SHG on a breakaway
Carolina added two more in the first 5:34 of the second stanza with goals from Andrei Svechnikov and Vincent Trochek, and after Haula's shorthanded tally on the breakaway brought the Preds to within a pair in the third, Sebastian Aho finished things off with a goal on the man advantage.
Despite the loss, Nashville still holds their playoff position in the Central, and they'll be eager to regroup with another chance in Carolina on Saturday night.
"It's like everything - we won 7-2 the other night - and you don't want to get too high, you don't want to get too low," Hynes said. "Let's take the lessons out of the game, good or bad, and we get a day tomorrow to get ready and then we have another one on Saturday. At this time of year, all the games are probably more emotional because of where you're at and where you're going, but the main thing is you've got to maintain the focus and can't get carried away one way or the other. Just get ready for Saturday."
"You've got to go back and look at the things that make you successful, look at the things that you can do better and then make sure that you take that and take it to the next game," Haula said. "There's going to be another game on Saturday, and we get another crack at them."
Video: NSH Recap: Haula scores lone goal in loss
Nashville went with the same lineup as they had during Tuesday's 7-2 win over Tampa Bay.
Predators forward Philip Tomasino, who was recalled from Chicago (AHL) to the taxi squad on Wednesday, is on the trip, but Hynes said Thursday morning there is no guarantee Tomasino would get into game action. The 19-year-old has seven goals and 20 points in 18 games with the Wolves this season.
The Preds will complete their two-game set with the Hurricanes on Saturday night (at 6 p.m. CT) in Carolina before heading home to start three-straight contests against the Chicago Blackhawks.