The Carolina Hurricanes closed out their regular season with the 5-0 loss in Nashville to the Predators. Both teams sat several regulars in preparation for their upcoming seven-game playoff series that will start in Raleigh on a date to be determined.
1. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour summarized the game succinctly: “It’s kind of flushed for me, to be honest with you.”
Carolina entered its final two regular season games a perfect 6-0-0 against the Predators, but the Hurricanes didn’t have much to play for in either game and rested several key players Monday while relying mostly on the bottom half of its lineup.
The end result was disappointing — particularly considering Joey Keane was making his NHL debut on a defense playing without its top three performers — but not unexpected.
“We’re putting game behind us,” forward Max McCormick said. “That’s not our game. That’s not how we play.”
2. While Keane was part of arguably the Hurricanes’ worst performance of the season, he still got the full first-game treatment, from the solo laps at the start of warmups to his family getting to be in the stands.
“It was a pretty surreal experience,” said the 21-year-old defenseman, who was acquired last season in a trade with the Rangers that sent Julien Gauthier to New York. “From the first puck drop I was kind of not really thinking, just kind of in the moment.”
Keane, who played 19:34 and had one shot on goal, said he didn’t get to see his family before the game but was “definitely looking forward to seeing them” after the game.
3. While the game was mostly meaningless for both teams, Brind’Amour said it could still play a role in how his lineup looks in Game 1.
For one, Jordan Martinook was able to play for the first time since suffering an injury April 22 in Florida.
“The fact that he got one game under his belt will be probably good for him and his confidence,” Brind’Amour said of Martinook, who the coach acknowledged still probably has some rust to knock off after a prolonged absence.
As for other lineup decisions?
“Maybe,” Brind’Amour said. “We had some question marks. If we get healthy. Right now, it’s hard to say. But if everyone’s good to go, whenever we start, then there will definitely be some tough decisions.”
Those decisions include selecting a starter in net. Mrazek allowed five goals on 27 shots Monday.
“I feel good about wherever we go, whatever direction there,” Brind’Amour said.
Number To Know
7 — Wins for the Predators this season against the Central Division’s three other playoff teams. Nashville, after winning each of the last two games against Carolina, was 7-16-1 combined against the Hurricanes, Panthers and Lightning. Against Chicago, Columbus, Dallas and Detroit, the Predators went 24-7-1.
They Said It
“I think it’s just a little bit of a foreshadow of the battle that’s ahead for Game 1 coming up.”
— Hurricanes forward Max McCormick on the physicality of the last two games against Nashville
Jake Bean, Hurricanes defenseman — The rookie reestablished his hold on a spot in the lineup with one of the few solid performances for a Hurricanes player. Bean finished with four shots on goal in 20:30 and logged 2:21 on the penalty kill in an expanded role with Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin all sitting out the game.
Jake Gardiner, Hurricanes defenseman — In his first game since April 27, Gardiner struggled and didn’t make much of a case to be part of Carolina’s defense if its other six regulars are ready to go in Game 1. The Predators scored two shorthanded goals on plays where Gardiner was out-skated up ice, and he was on the ice for three goals against in all.