Cary, NC – Two nights ago, the Eric Staal was in town with the Wild with the Canes winning that game. And this night, Peter Laviolette, coach of the Canes in 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup, was in town as the Canes were hosting another playoff bound team, the Nashville Predators.
Jeff Skinner led the Canes with two goals in a 4-2 win that was a solid effort by the entire team. The only thing lacking was a powerplay goal but if there’s any consolation, all power plays the Canes had did everything right but put the puck in the net.
Staal and Skinner Start Scoring Early
For those that were still getting their delicious barbecue, popcorn or adult beverage at the start of the game, they missed Jordan Staal score the fastest goal for the Canes this season as he had a pretty redirect from a Jaccob Slavin shot. The play started in the Canes end when Teuvo Teravainen gather the puck sending it to Staal in the neutral zone. Staal passed it to Sebastian Aho for a give and go but Staal lost the puck along the backboards. Slavin blocked the clear at the blue line, squared himself for a shot, then sent one along the ice that Staal, in perfect position in the dirty area, redirected through the five-hole for the quick lead.
One thing that is a signature of any Laviolette team is aggressiveness on the offensive side of the puck. At least two attackers crash the net on any shot and give credit to the Canes coaching as any Cane near the net was tying up sticks thwarting any redirect or shot off a rebound. That alone was a big improvement over games in the recent past. Midway in the period, Lee Stempinak used his speed and tenacity when goalie Juuse Saros went behind the net to control the puck. Stemper broke up the play then passed out to Skinner near the face off circle with Skinny sending a no nonsense wrister in to put the Canes up 2-0.
That was a great example of why assists count as much as goals for points as that goal couldn’t have happened without Stemper’s forechecking and slick pass. Late in the period, the Preds had a partial breakaway as the puck skipped by the Canes defense allowing two Preds to zero in on Canes keeper, Eddie Lack. Slavin and Skinny were using their speed and both made the decision to slide to breakup any pass attempt. Slavin’s body blocked the shot and to think that Skinny also went down shows commitment for being a total game player.
Skinner Notches his 25th Of The Season
Patrick Brown probably had his best game of his young career as used his speed to snare a puck in the neutral zone early in the second period, bringing it in the Preds end along the right wing. With Joakim Nordstrom was charging down the center slot, Brownie centered the puck that Nordy just missed the redirect which would have been a very pretty play.
A couple of shifts later, the Preds Ryan Ellis skated with the puck through the neutral zone over the Canes blue line sending a hard slap shot that Lack kick the puck to the corner. Viktor Arvidsson was first to the puck then whipped it to the net as he was on the goal line giving him about a one degree angle but somehow got the puck in the net as it careened off Lack’s right leg. Arvidsson is very talented and in this case, talent with a little luck.
Close to the 15 minute mark, Staal out-muscled two defenders along the half boards on the near side partially out of necessity and partly because the Canes D was on a change. Staal saw Slavin jump over the boards then fed a lead pass inside the blue line. Slavin skated in hitting a slap shot on the fly into traffic in front of the net. Skinny and Stempinak were deep in the traffic as the shot bounced off Saros’ chest. Skinny twisted like a pretzel to get the puck on his backhand to lift it top shelf to put the Canes back up by two.
Lindholm Seals The Victory
Nashville will end up in third place in the Central division but is looking to improve their standing in the Western Conference. They’re currently in seventh position but have their sights set on fourth so they really needed these two points. Laviloette must have mentioned speed and shots were going to happen more in the last stanza as the Preds turned up the heat in the offensive zone getting off 11 shots on net with another nine blocked by the Canes defense.
As Lack and the Canes defense held strong throughout the period, with just under three minutes remaining the Preds pulled Saros for a sixth skater. The strategy worked as Filip Forsberg, who has been the hottest goal scorer since Wednesday, February 1, 2017 notched his 21st goal since then on a shot that looked like Eric Staal’s signature shot. Rask got a little frustrated by the goal and did more than a love tap after the goal went in drawing a penalty giving the Preds an additional man advantage but also allowing the Canes to ice the puck without the faceoff coming back in their end.
The Preds came back with everything they had but Lack was solid. Lack deflected a shot from the top center slot area to the side boards where Aho quickly grabbed the puck, saw Lindy cutting up through the neutral zone putting a pass right on his tape for an easy empty netter and also extending Lindy’s point streak to six games.
Next game is Monday, March 27, 2017 against Detroit. Be There!
This is the make up game for a game postponed due to the ice conditions so it’s not on the printed schedule. Always keep up to date on all happenings on CaryCitizen.com.