Saros stops record 64 shots as Predators beat Hurricanes

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James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

RALEIGH, N.C. — The shots came at such a rapid pace that Nashville goalie Juuse Saros didn’t have a chance to assess the chaos in front of him.

Just make the next save.

Saros racked up a franchise-record 64 saves and Mark Jankowski’s goal 5:06 into the third period gave the Predators their first lead in a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.

“It was a sweaty night, but nice to get the win,” said Saros, selected to the NHL All-Star Game a few hours earlier.

Saros matched the third-most saves in NHL history. He stopped all 28 shots in the third.

“He made multiple big saves,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “He’s one of the stars of our team. He played like that.”

The 67 shots for Carolina marked a franchise record. The previous high was 65 when, as the Hartford Whalers, the team beat Toronto on March 15, 1984.

“You’ve got to win the game,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “What you’ve got to do is give credit where credit is due. That guy played as good a game in the net that you’re ever going to see.”

Saros didn’t mind the workload.

“I’m fine,” he said. “That’s why we practice.”

Filip Forsberg, Mattias Ekholm and Cody Glass also scored for Nashville, which has a four-game point streak. Colton Sissons had an empty-net goal, and Alexandre Carrier provided two assists.

Paul Stastny, Brady Skjei and Jordan Staal scored for Carolina. Brett Pesce had two assists, and Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 20 shots.

The Hurricanes, who had a franchise-record 11-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night against the New York Rangers, have lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Nov. 6 and 9.

This one stung because what seemed like domination went for naught.

“We had the puck most of the game,” Staal said. “We definitely have to regroup and get back on it. It’s two in a row. We have to find a way to get on the right side of it.”

Saros was up to the task while facing Carolina’s power play in the final four minutes and he handled a 6-on-5 situation until Sissons’ empty-netter with 2.9 seconds left.

“He’s an All-Star for a reason,” Jankowski said.

The Predators responded to each of Carolina’s three goals with a tying tally within three minutes. Nashville scored three times on its first 12 shots. The Hurricanes held a 31-12 edge in shots after Glass’ fourth goal of the season and second in two games.

“It can’t be pretty every night, but you have to dig some out,” Ekholm said.

The Predators were proud that they executed well enough on offense to overcome what was happening at the other end.

“Anytime we get down like that, we know what we’re capable of,” Jankowski said.

The goals for Stastny and Forsberg came on power plays. Skjei’s goal was on a 4-on-4 situation 35 seconds into the second period.

“The pace of the game, they put some pressure on, obviously,” Hynes said. “We turned some pucks over that allowed them to (go) on the attack a little bit more.

“Carolina always plays that way. They shoot a lot of pucks. Especially behind, you knew it was going to be a hard push from them.”

WELCOME ABOARD

Left wing Max Pacioretty made his Carolina debut, skating on the fourth line in his first game of the season.

“My energy was there,” he said.

Pacioretty launched six shots on goal.

“Just want him to get up to game speed as quickly as possible,” Brind’Amour said before the game. “Then he’s going to have that adjustment period to what we’re doing.”

Pacioretty was a key offseason acquisition for the Hurricanes, who dealt for him from Vegas. In August, he underwent surgery for a torn Achilles and was expected to miss up to six months.

He entered with 226 goals in 626 regular-season games.

ICE MATTERS

Hurricanes forward Stefan Noesen missed his first game since the opener with a lower-body injury sustained in the first period Tuesday night. . Carolina forward Andrei Svechnikov also was selected to the All-Star Game.

UP NEXT

Predators: At Washington on Friday.

Hurricanes: At Columbus on Saturday.

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    Filip Forsberg racks up 3 points, Predators rout Ducks 6-1

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    Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports
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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists in his 600th career game, and Colton Sissons added a goal and an assist in the Nashville Predators’ 6-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

    Yakov Trenin, Thomas Novak, Roman Josi and Nino Niederreiter also scored in the Predators’ third win in 11 games. Juuse Saros made 26 saves as Nashville opened a quick two-game West Coast road trip by snapping a two-game skid.

    “We’re almost halfway through the season, and I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Forsberg, who produced his sixth multi-point performance in 21 career games against Anaheim. “Our offensive zone work was good, especially in the second period. There’s been something missing there this season, so it was good to get that going.”

    After his three-point performance in Orange County, Forsberg is just two points shy of becoming the third player in Predators history to score 500 points. His goal on the doorstep off a defensive misplay put the Predators up 3-1 in the second period, blowing open a previously tight game with his 11th goal of the season.

    Sam Carrick scored and John Gibson stopped 37 shots in another dismal effort by the Ducks, who have lost four of five.

    Anaheim dropped to 1-2-1 on its franchise-record, 10-game homestand, and the beleaguered club finished the 2022 calendar year with a dismal record of 24-51-11.

    “It’s no secret that we’re in a rebuild,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “We’re trying to develop players on the fly. We’re doing our best to compete every night, and … when you are a team like that, you can’t make mistakes, and you certainly cannot do things by yourself. We can’t have guys being single contractors. You need your teammates, and you have to play the system so we can have some success. That’s where it got away from us tonight.”

    Sissons put the Predators ahead in the first period when he was left unmarked in the right circle and whistled a wrist shot past Gibson for his fifth goal in 17 career regular-season games against Anaheim.

    “We made it hard on them,” Sissons said. “They could barely catch their breath for a while there while we rolled (lines) on them.”

    Sissons has been an unlikely offensive threat against the Ducks for most of his career. The depth-line grinder with just one 10-goal season in his decade in Nashville had the greatest game of his NHL life against the Ducks, posting a hat trick in the Preds’ clinching Game 6 victory in the 2017 Western Conference finals.

    Carrick got credit for evening it early in the second period when Urho Vaakanainen‘s shot into traffic ricocheted sharply off Carrick’s hip, resulting in only his second goal of the season.

    But Nashville reclaimed the lead when Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler‘s giveaway set up a quick shot by Trenin for a goal in his second straight game.

    “Nashville has an excellent team,” Eakins said. “I’m not sure their record shows exactly what they have there. … The one thing I do think Nashville does very well is they play with each other. They play a very good team game, and every shift is almost the same.”

    Novak got his second goal of the season – the third of his NHL career – early in the third period. Josi then scored on a long shot during a power play, and Niederreiter tacked on his 12th goal with 13 seconds to play.

    UP NEXT

    Predators: At Vegas on Saturday.

    Ducks: Host Philadelphia on Monday.

    Predators forward Michael McCarron enters assistance program

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    Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville Predators forward Michael McCarron has entered the player assistance program of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association.

    The league and the union announced the move without specifying why McCarron entered the program.

    The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996, giving players access to a confidential phone line and counselors in each city in the league. The jointly funded group assists players and their families with mental health, substance abuse and other matters.

    McCarron will continue to be paid while receiving treatment. The program administrators will determine when McCarron can return to the ice.

    The 27-year-old has one goal, one assist and 21 shots on goal this season. He has played in 15 games.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

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    Training camps open around the NHL after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon one bit.

    For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months since they knocked off the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

    “I still feel like I just was playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, and then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I enjoy it, and I like the short summer. It feels like the season’s just kind of rolling over again.”

    The NHL rolls into fall coming off an entertaining playoffs and final with the chance to finally get back on a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that got new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

    That means a mere 88 days between Game 6 of the final and the first-on ice practice sessions.

    “We’re kind of used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “It’s a little harder, of course, because you don’t have that much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back at it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short every year.”

    It was a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West final. Despite the lack of downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that in for anything” and aims to make it even further since Edmonton shored up its goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell.

    A few spins of the goalie carousel ended with the Avalanche acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landing with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper is not worried about less time off.

    “It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With how short it was, you start getting back into the gym and you’re kind of a little bit worried that your training’s going to be so short. But you kind of felt like you weren’t getting back into shape. You were already there.”

    NEW COACHES

    The Oilers are one of several teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but has the full-time job now.

    “Looking forward to a camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming in during the middle of the season, but it’s never easy on a coach, for sure. I’m sure there’s things that he wanted to touch on that you wasn’t able to kind of in the middle of the year, so he’ll be able to to touch on all of it this year.”

    The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months since being put in charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and the New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting the job fresh.

    CAMP TRYOUTS

    Roughly 40 players are attending a camp on a professional tryout agreement with the chance to earn a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan returned to Carolina to seek a job with the Hurricanes.

    The most intriguing situation involves 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who agreed to the tryout with Florida the same time brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

    “They’re both just super pumped, as was I,” said Jordan Staal, who is the captain of the Hurricanes. “Eric is excited about the opportunity and Marc, as well. Really cool. Really cool thing.”

    EARLY START

    Before the puck drops on the NHL season in North America on Oct. 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. And those are not exhibitions.

    “We still play two important games,” said Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who is a native of Prague. “It’s not just preseason where you coming here to warm up.”

    Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland, on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

    And just as the league gets used to a regular schedule, work is ongoing between the league and NHL Players’ Association to stage a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even if it knocks the calendar off kilter again.

    “I think they missed out on a huge, huge portion of the international game that’s really going to be missed,” McDavid said. “We need to figure out a way to get an international tournament in as quickly as possible.”