Hurricanes keep Predators punchless in Game 2 to take 2-0 series lead

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All things considered, a lot went right for Nashville on Wednesday. None of it mattered, though, as the Hurricanes beat the Predators 3-0 in Game 2, taking a 2-0 series lead.

In Game 2, Predators received seven power-play opportunities to just three for the Hurricanes. For most of the contest, Nashville didn’t allow an even-strength goal. If you gave the Preds those details alone, they’d probably hop at that situation.

But they lost anyway, and if they don’t make adjustments, it won’t matter much that the series will shift to Nashville.

Plenty of nastiness, not a lot of scoring in Game 2 of Hurricanes – Predators

When Sebastian Aho made it 1-0 on a power-play goal 8:03 into Game 2 of Predators – Hurricanes, it seemed like this one might really open up. Instead, this was a clunky one, thanks in part to a steady parade to the penalty box.

By the midway point of the third period, the Predators failed to score a power-play goal vs. the Hurricanes despite seven opportunities. Meanwhile, that Aho goal came on the power play for the Hurricanes.

Frankly, Aho enjoyed just as many dangerous shorthanded chances as the Predators generated on their man advantages. Or at least it felt that way.

Beyond Aho vs. the Predators’ putrid power play, the larger picture is that Nashville couldn’t really get to the danger areas on the PP. Take a look at this heat map for the Predators’ power play, via Natural Stat Trick.

That’s … honestly kind of pathetic. The Predators’ power play issues became more and more prominent late in Peter Laviolette’s run, and it doesn’t really look like John Hynes has any answers.

Considering the deficit in talent and regular season success between these teams, it’s not outrageous for Nashville to want to make this series nasty. After all, a more rugged game might mean higher odds of one-goal games, thus possibly allowing Juuse Saros to steal some wins.

As keyed-in as Saros has been, his team just hasn’t provided much support. Some of that comes down to Alex Nedeljkovic. While the Predators struggle to generate much in the way of high-danger chances vs. the Hurricanes (especially in Game 2), Nedeljkovic has been sharp when challenged.

Closer than 3-0, but painful for Nashville either way

Maybe it’s fitting that the Hurricanes dealt a final Game 2 blow to the Predators in a faux “power play” situation. After the Predators emptied the net, Sebastian Aho chased down what would have been an iced puck, and sent an insurance goal into an empty net.

A little salt was added to Nashville’s wounds when Warren Foegele made it 3-0.

Considering the 2-0 empty-netter, and the 3-0 goal in “garbage time,” this was a closer game than the 3-0 final score indicates. If anything, that might make it burn that much more, though. For most of Game 2, the Predators were a bounce from tying the Hurricanes, and then who knows?

Instead, they couldn’t dent Nedeljkovic, who earned his first career playoff shutout.

HURRICANES VS. PREDATORS (CAR leads 2-0) – series livestream link

Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Predators 2
Game 2: Hurricanes 3, Predators 0
Friday, May 21: Hurricanes at Predators, 7 p.m. ET (USA Network)
Sunday, May 23: Hurricanes at Predators, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Tuesday, May 25: Predators at Hurricanes TBD
*Thursday, May 27: Hurricanes at Predators TBD
*Saturday, May 29: Predators at Hurricanes TBD

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.