Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes - Game Three Preview
Nashville, TN -- What a difference a week makes.
One week ago, the Nashville Predators were riding high after securing a playoff birth. They had just beat the Carolina Hurricanes in back-to-back games in Nashville, outscoring the Canes 8-1.
Now, the Predators trail the Hurricanes in the best-of-seven series, 2-0. And it's Carolina who has outscored Nashville in those games, 8-2.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Games Three and Four. Carolina has a chance tonight to secure a commanding 3-0 series lead; Nashville is looking to change the momentum.
Carolina took a 2-0 series lead on Wednesday, thanks to a 3-0 victory over the Predators. Alex Nedeljkovic turned in a 32-save shutout performance in his second NHL playoff start. Sebastian Aho scored a powerplay goal and an empty-netter; Warren Foegele scored with under 30 seconds left.
In Game Two, Carolina came off their discipline, taking nine penalties. Yet, their penalty kill bailed them out. The Canes went 7 for 7 on the kill.
For Nashville, who is now 0 for 10 on the powerplay this postseason, the aim is simple. They need to score goals.
To do so, they'll need to figure out how to beat Canes rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.
Nedeljkovic continues to make a name for himself. The Ohio native has now allowed two or fewer goals in 18 of his last 22 starts dating back to February 20. With Wednesday's shutout, he joins Cam Talbot (MIN) as the only other goaltender to post a shutout this postseason.
For the Canes, there are two big questions about the lineup: will Jaccob Slavin play, and will Alex Nedeljkovic start?
As for Slavin, it sounds like the injury is of the chronic variety. Brind'Amour noted that Slavin will likely be a game-time decision for the duration of the playoffs.
When it comes to goaltending, there's a different consideration. Carolina rotated two, and at times, three goaltenders during the regular season.
While it's not unheard of to rotate goalies in the playoffs, it would be a bold move to sit one as hot as Alex Nedeljkovic. Expect Nedeljkovic to get the Game Three start.
While Juuse Saros played well on Wednesday, there might be some pressure on Nashville coach John Hynes to give Pekka Rinne a look in Game Three. Saros' career playoff record now stands at 1-5.
Meanwhile, Rinne's record is 45-44. That alone may not be enough to win him the net, but Rinne has another check in his column--his performance on May 10 against Carolina. Rinne posted a 30-save shutout that showed the 38-year-old Finn can still get it done between the pipes.
Whoever is in net for Nashville, they'll need more goal support from their teammates to avoid falling into a dire playoff situation--trailing in the series 3-0.
The Canes' expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Warren Foegele — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook — Steven Lorentz — Brock McGinn
Brady Skjei — Dougie Hamilton
Jake Bean — Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner — Jani Hakanpaa
Injuries: Jaccob Slavin (lower body)
Scratches: James Reimer, Max McCormick, Drew Shore, Morgan Geekie, Cedric Paquette, Joakim Ryan, Ronald McKeown, Maxim Lajoie
Nashville's expected lines:
Filip Forsberg — Ryan Johansen — Viktor Arvidsson
Eeli Tolvanen — Mikael Granlund — Luke Kunin
Brad Richardson — Erik Haula — Matt Duchene
Yakov Trenin — Colton Sissons — Tanner Jeannot
Roman Josi — Alexandre Carrier
Mattias Ekholm — Ryan Ellis
Erik Gudbranson — Matt Benning
Scratches: Mathieu Olivier, Calle Jarnkrok, , Dante Fabbro, Ben Harpur