NHL Thursday NBC Sports Network Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at the Nashville Predators.
Carolina took a 3-2 lead in this Central Division series with their 3-2 victory in overtime on Tuesday. Nashville hosts the sixth game looking to force a climactic seventh game on the NBC Sports Network with the puck dropping at 9:38 PM ET.
Yakov Trenin opened the scoring at the 11:44 mark of the first period to give the Predators the initial lead. Martin Necas evened the score at 1-1 less than three minutes later with a power-play goal. Necas then gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead 12:55 minutes into the second period. Trenin evened the score for Carolina with his second goal of the game with just 53 seconds left in the second period. After a scoreless third period, the game went into overtime, where Jordan Staal scored 2:03 minutes into the extra session to give the Hurricanes the win and a 3-2 lead in the series.
Staal has five points with four goals and one assist in this series. The Carolina captain ties for the team lead in points with Sebastian Aho, who has five points from three goals and two assists. Necas and Brett Pesce both have three points. The Hurricanes have had 15 skaters register at least one point in this series.
Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced on Tuesday to help Carolina move within one game of winning this series. The rookie has a 2.10 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in his five starts in this postseason. He got help with the return of top-pair defenseman Jacob Slavin who had missed the previous three games with a lower-body injury. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour gave Slavin the most ice time of the team on Tuesday.
Ryan Ellis leads the Predators with four points from one goal and three assists in this series. Seven other Nashville skaters have registered three points. The team has received surprising contributions from Trenin and Luke Kunin who have both tallied two-score games. Fifteen skaters have scored a point for the Predators in this series. The top two defensive pairs of Ellis/Matias Ekholm and Roman Josi/Alexandre Carrier have been a part of 12 of the 36 points Nashville has produced. Head coach John Hynes had to juggle lines to begin the series, given the upper-body injury to Viktor Arvidsson. He moved Matt Duchene to the top-line to play alongside Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen.
Juuse Saros stopped 34 of 37 shots on Tuesday. He has a 2.59 goals-against-average and a .928 save percentage in this series. After posting a 15-3-0 record at home during the regular season, Saros has won both games at home in this series with a .940 save percentage.
The home team has won all five games so far in this series. The last three games needed overtime to resolve things, with both games played in Nashville going to double-overtime. Bridgestone Arena expects 14,000 fans in what is considered one of the best home environments in the NHL.
BookMaker lists Carolina as a -140 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.
Computer prediction: Nashville 4 Carolina 3