Nashville Predators can't handle third period surge by Carolina Hurricanes, drop Game 1

Paul Skrbina
Nashville Tennessean

The Nashville Predators were where they weren’t expected to be Monday night – in a postseason series.

After winning 20 of their final 28 regular-season games to secure the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, Nashville found itself in Raleigh, N.C., facing the top-seeded Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1, the third game of a possible nine straight between the teams.

The result was a 5-2 Predators loss in the best-of-seven series.

Nino Niederreiter scored the winning goal 2 minutes, 26 seconds into the third for the Hurricanes.

The Predators struck first when Filip Forsberg deposited a beauty of a pass from Ryan Johansen into Carolina's net, then sprouted a smile as he appeared to shout some words of celebration -- "that's for you, baby," according to amateur lip-readers --  at the home crowd with 7:46 left in the first. The lead was soon erased thanks to a Teuvo Teravainen tip with 6:19 left in the period.

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Jordan Staal scored with three seconds left on a four-on-four 4:19 into the second for a 2-1 Carolina lead. Former Hurricane Erik Haula reset the score a little more than four minutes later, and was showered with boos as a result.

Staal encouraged cheers from the home crowd again with 12 minutes remaining to make it 4-2. Carolina added an empty-net goal with 1:47 left.

Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Central Wednesday in Raleigh.

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