Tuesday night in Carolina wasn’t the best effort for the Nashville Predators this season as they fell 2-1 to the Hurricans at PNC Arena in Raleigh. What began with exchanged opportunities in the first period, but without any goals, turned into a second period that found Nashville on their heels.
“We didn’t have a great second period,” said defenseman Seth Jones. “They took it to us a little bit to be honest. They were just quicker on pucks and winning more battles. We knew we needed a good third to win the game. We were right there, but the second period was what buried us.”
Although the Predators put 33 shots on goal, only one found the back of the net. Much can be credited to the types of shots generated by Nashville.
“I honestly don’t think we got enough traffic there,” said Jones on getting shots on Carolina goaltender Cam Ward. “I think a lot of our shots we were kind of standing on the side of the net a bit just waiting. They probably did a good job boxing out, too, but at the same time, we have to take his vision away or get our sticks down on pucks to create tips and make his life more difficult.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette echoed Jones’ thoughts.
“You have to give Carolina some credit, they were tight defensively. There weren’t a lot of grade A opportunities for us tonight and they were pretty quick on defense and shutting things down. Give them some credit. We can be better and I thought we were in the third, but just couldn’t catch up.”
While the Predators got on the board with a late goal in the third from Mike Ribeiro. The 15 shots from Nashville in the period just weren’t enough. The flurry in the last few minutes of the game is the kind of effort that Jones knows the team needs to show the entire game.
“It was just desperation,” said Jones on the late-game onslaught of shots. “We put more pucks to the net, but when you’re down two goals with five minutes left, you’re going to do that. We expect to do that for 60 minutes, the entire game, but in the last five minutes, that’s not going to win.”
If there is a bright spot to take away from Tuesday’s game, it would be the penalty kill. The unit has done a wonderful job of blocking shots, closing lanes and clearing pucks in the past few games.
“It’s been good, I think we’re bearing down a little bit more and our clears are very good,” said Jones on the penalty kill. “We’ve been 100 percent in the past four or five games. I think we’re winning draws, too, which helps. I know we’re breaking the puck out which puts pressure on the other team.”
Peter Laviolette credits the success to the penalty kill finally beginning to click as a unit with their aggressive play.
“The PK was good, said Laviolette. “It’s been getting better and more aggressive. I think they’re starting to find a rhythm with what they’re doing but it stems from being aggressive in their approach.”
While the Predators will focus on what they can improve upon from the game against the Hurricanes, they must prepare for a Central Division foe to come to town on Thursday.
“We’re going to practice tomorrow and I’m sure we’re going to do video,” said Jones. “We’ll go over what we could have done better tonight. It’s one game, we’ve got to put it behind us. Obviously we’re going to be looking at St. Louis. They’re a good team, so anything can happen. We need to be prepared.”