The Carolina Hurricanes got a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night to fall to 0-3-1 on their four-game homestand over the past week. All four of those losses came against teams that are currently on the outside looking in as far as a playoff spot is concerned in their respective conferences.
Nashville had a 2-1 lead on the Hurricanes in the second period after a very slow start in the first period. They were able to get two quick goals to start the second, but the Hurricanes came right back to seize control of the game and led 4-2 after the second period.
“They just pounced on our chances overall,” said Predators defenseman Victor Bartley. “We turned a couple pucks over, we didn’t win battles, and with their offense they have there they just put the puck in the net.”
Jeff Skinner led the way for Carolina, recording his first career hat trick. Skinner had two goals in the second period and added an empty net goal in the third period to secure the hat trick and the win for the Hurricanes.
“He’s such a dynamic player,” Bartley said. “He’ll shoot off the rush, shoot when he’s turning so you’ve really got to be on your game and block shots shots against him. I don’t think we did that enough tonight, myself personally. If we’re going to win games we’ve got to sacrifice and block shots, take the body and win one-on-one battles against him.”
There weren’t a whole lot of positives to take away from Thursday night’s game for the Predators, but one positive was that Bartley recorded his first point of the season on Nashville’s first goal. Bartley fired a shot from the point that was deflected by Mike Fisher and got past Justin Peters for the goal.
“It’s been a long time since I had a point so that was definitely nice to get. Fisher did a great job going to the net, [Seth] Jones made a nice pass over to me and we had some traffic and good things happened,” Bartley said.
The Predators scored a combined total of five goals in the four losses on the homestand and allowed 14 goals. Nashville had a hard time finishing off the chances they got, whether it was on the power play or on high-quality scoring chances right in front of the net or on breakaways. Now they will try to go on the road and see if their fortune changes.
“We basically get away from here for a bit, go on the road and hopefully do some damage. We worked hard on the road to be able to get home ice here and be able to work hard, and we blew that chance. We just have to get back to basics, go back on the road and just play simple hockey. Play hard, play simple,” Bartley said.
Nashville’s loss to Carolina plus the other three losses on the homestand puts them in a tough position in what has become a loaded Western Conference. They’re in 12th place out of 14 teams in the Western Conference and dead last in the Central Division. There’s no other way to put it, the Predators have to start playing with a lot of desperation. If they don’t, it may end up being too late.
“No matter what point of the season, I think you have to play playoff hockey,” Bartley said. “Especially right now with how the last four games have gone for us. We’ve got to pick up our game, and that starts with going into Washington and New York.”