Coming off their goal-filled season opener, the Hurricanes’ follow-up Saturday in Nashville was more like Carolina’s playoff series against the Predators — low-scoring and tightly contested.
The end result was also similar.
Andrei Svechnikov’s tie-breaking goal with six minutes remaining put Carolina ahead for good, and the Hurricanes improved to 2-0-0 on the season with a 3-2 win in Nashville.
Svechnikov, who finished with a team-high seven shots on goal, had a difficult outing up to that point, having turned the puck over on the Predators’ first goal and taking a slashing penalty when the game was tied late in the second.
“I made a big mistake when they scored their first goal,” said Svechnikov, who now has three goals through two games this season.
As time ticked away in the third, Martin Necas collected an up-ice flip from defenseman Brett Pesce and drove the Predators defender back in the zone before passing left to Svechnikov, who quickly fired the puck short side past Juuse Saros (29 saves) to give Carolina a 2-1 lead at 14:00 of the third. Teuvo Teravainen added an empty-net goal with 72 seconds left, making the goal by Nashville’s Filip Forsberg 27 seconds later nothing more than window dressing.
But the Hurricanes couldn’t have ever gotten to that point without goaltender Frederik Andersen. Making his second career start for Carolina, Andersen stopped 38 shots in out-dueling Saros.
“I haven’t seen a lot of games like that, in the three years that we’ve been doing this, where clearly the goalie was the reason we won the game, in my opinion,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Usually our goalies play good but we’re playing well. That was not the case tonight. We didn’t play a very good game in front of him, but he came up huge.”
Andersen was particularly good when Carolina was on the penalty kill. After not facing a shot on goal in just over five minutes of shorthanded time in the opener, Andersen was perfect with nine saves in 7:24 at 5-on-4 at Bridgestone Arena.
“I think you can create momentum for you too,” Andersen said of the penalty kill. “So that’s important to be ready to go and come out and kind of take that away from them. That’s obviously a big chance for any team in this league to get a man advantage. So I think when you can kill it off, it’s such a huge momentum boost for the team and the guys on the bench.”
Andersen seemed to have a calming influence on the team throughout the game — a stark contrast to predecessors Petr Mrazek, who fed off crowd energy when at his best, and Alex Nedeljkovic, whose sprawling, acrobatic style and puck-handling made for more of a pendulum swing.
“The key to my game is good positioning, being athletic,” Andersen said. “But I think you’re going to have different emotional swings in the game and it’s a really exciting sport. There’s going to be ups and downs in every game and every period, so I think the better you can ride that wave and not let it affect you, I think it’s beneficial for you.”
After surrendering an early lead to the Islanders on Thursday, Carolina got on the scoreboard first in Nashville.
Jesper Fast, who redirected a shot to give Carolina its first lead against New York, did it again Saturday, rushing up the left wing and firing a shot past Saros’ glove to put the Hurricanes up 1-0 just 6:19 into the game.
“You can’t have success as a team without a Jesper Fast, without those kind of players that know how to play, you can count on at the end of the game,” Brind’Amour said. “And chipping in too with some goals, that’s huge.”
The Predators knotted the score just before the midway point of regulation when Svechnikov’s turnover led to Ryan Johansen powering a backhand past Andersen to make it 1-1 at 7:54 of the second.
Just over 26 minutes later, Svechnikov made amends with his go-ahead goal.
“I saw the short side upstairs, and I’m glad I got that goal,” he said.
Notes: Brett Pesce finished with two assists and logged 23:12 of ice time, second only on the team to Jaccob Slavin (24:15). … Brind’Amour shuffled the lines in the third period, most notably moving Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the fourth line and elevating Jordan Martinook to the first. … Ian Cole and Tony DeAngelo had their second straight solid game. While neither registered a point, they had the best 5-on-5 possession numbers on the team (80% for Cole, 76.19% for DeAngelo, according to NaturalStatTrick.com). … All of Svechnikov’s game-high five individual scoring chances came at even strength.