Duchene the hero as Predators beat Hurricanes in Game 3 double OT

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Predators beat the Hurricanes 5-4 in double OT in Game 3, reducing Carolina’s series lead to 2-1. Matt Duchene ended up scoring the Game 3-winner in double overtime.

Again, some stories carried over from earlier in this First Round series.

Perhaps Juuse Saros‘ height factored into, say, Vincent Trocheck‘s goal, but Saros still played a big role in Nashville hanging in there.

Meanwhile, the Predators largely squandered special teams opportunities in Game 3, when even a league-average unit might have made the difference vs. the Hurricanes. Those struggles were the story of Predators – Hurricanes Game 3 … until things shifted to OT.

Predators power play still impotent vs. Hurricanes in Game 3

For the Predators, a putrid power play is nothing new. Even so, it’s been dramatically bad during the Predators – Hurricanes First Round series.

In Game 2, Nashville went 0-for-7, while Carolina scored a PPG on just three opportunities. Through 60 minutes of regulation in Game 3, the Predators were almost as listless vs. the Hurricanes. In Game 3, the Predators finally scored on the power play, but needed a 5-on-3 opportunity to pull it off.

To some extent, it can be the nature of the beast. Sometimes that just happens against a smart, talented, and deep team like Carolina.

But it’s fair to call John Hynes’ tactics and decisions into question. No doubt, you can complain about Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen costing too much money. Wouldn’t it make sense to deploy one or both on the power play, especially on a team as elite-talent-light as Nashville?

Early in Game 3, the Predators received a power play after a borderline delay of game penalty against the Hurricanes. Then, in overtime, the tide turned. Nashville likely deserved a PP, but did not get the call.

Extra innings

Credit both the Hurricanes and Predators as Game 3 went from OT to double-OT. For the most part, these teams played hard, even as exhaustion set in. Juuse Saros and Alex Nedeljkovic both were busy, combining for 22 saves during the first OT alone.

When the Hurricanes finally got whistled for a penalty in double OT, it felt like it would be a fitting moment for the Predators.

Would their struggling special teams finally come through? Maybe John Hynes would reward Matt Duchene for some strong play (including drawing the penalty) or Ryan Johansen for the earlier goal?

Nope, that power play was uneventful … but shortly after, Duchene scored the OTGWG.

The Predators don’t need to worry about a sweep vs. the Hurricanes. Now, can they make it a truly competitive series? We’ll get a better idea depending upon how things shake out in Game 4 on Sunday.

PREDATORS – HURRICANES FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Predators 2
Game 2: Hurricanes 3, Predators 0
Game 3: Predators 5, Hurricanes 4 (double OT)
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.

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