Kunin Bags Two, Including Double-Overtime Game-Winner; Nashville Ties Series 2-2
Nashville, TN -- Luke Kunin scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Nashville Predators defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in double overtime on Sunday. With Nashville's second straight double-overtime victory, the Predators tied the first-round series at 2-2.
Ryan Johansen and Nick Cousins also scored for Nashville.
Brock McGinn had two goals for Carolina; Vincent Trocheck got his second playoff goal for the Canes.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Canes forward Brock McGinn said. "You never want to lose in overtime. You work so hard to get [the last two games] into double overtime--to lose them is not easy."
The Hurricanes weekend trip to Nashville ended the way it started: with a double-overtime loss.
This time, the Nashville hero was Luke Kunin, the same player who opened the scoring less than a minute into the game.
For the 23-year-old native of Missouri, the two goals were his first of the playoffs, and they couldn't have come at a more critical time for his team.
Nashville, who entered Game Three on the verge of a 3-0 series deficit, heads to Raleigh, having tied the series and with all the momentum.
For Carolina, the challenge will be to maintain their confidence against a Nashville goaltender that stopped 53 of their shots on Friday and 58 more on Sunday.
"I think we got a lot of pucks to the net," Brock McGinn said. "We just need to keep playing the way we are, and hopefully, we get those [good] bounces. We just can't get away from our game."
Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour acknowledged that the Canes had struggled to score on Saros when it mattered most.
"We had our goals tonight," Brind'Amour said. "But to me, we needed to connect on that [overtime] powerplay. We had some good looks."
In a scenario that was almost identical to Game Three, the Canes and Predators played a tight hockey game with the teams exchanging several one-goal leads in regulation.
Kunin's first-period goal gave Nashville the early lead, but Vincent Trocheck pounded home a loose puck late in the first period to tie the game.
Ryan Johansen scored at 4:53 of the second, and Brock McGinn answered back at 18:05.
McGinn scored only 13 seconds into the third period to give Carolina its only lead of the night at 3-2.
But the lead evaporated at 3:15 of the third when Nick Cousins scored in the waning moments of a Nashville powerplay.
Then, another 52 minutes of hockey--nearly an entire regulation game--would pass without a goal.
Carolina went on the powerplay four minutes into the first overtime when Nick Cousins cleared a puck out of play from his own defensive zone.
However, the Canes couldn't convert, despite several good looks from the top unit with Svechnikov, Hamilton, Aho, Trocheck, and Staal.
As the first overtime gave way to the second, Carolina seemed poised for the game-winner. They outshot the Predators 10-6 in the second OT, but a busted play undid it all at 16:10.
Kunin broke his stick at mid-ice, skated to the bench to retrieve a new one, then found himself unmarked in the slot for a one-timer that beat Nedeljkovic.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't get these two [wins] for Ned," McGinn said. "We just need to go back and get PNC [arena] rocking and try to get the next win."
Jordan Martinook had two assists for Carolina.
Martin Necas, Jordan Staal, and Steven Lorentz each had one assist for Carolina.
Alex Nedeljkovic made 39 saves on 43 shots faced.
Mikael Granlund and Mattias Ekholm each had two assists for Nashville.
Matt Duchene, Erik Haula, Calle Jarnkrok, and Ryan Ellis each had one assist for Nashville.
Juuse Saros made 58 saves on 61 shots faced in the win for the Predators.
Cedric Paquette (lower body) and Jaccob Slavin (lower body) did not dress for Carolina.
The two teams return to Raleigh; Game Five is Tuesday night at 8:00 Eastern.