Hurricanes 4, Predators 3

The Carolina Hurricanes have had difficulty putting teams away
this season, but they found a way to do it against the Nashville
Predators – one of the NHL’s top clubs.

The Hurricanes didn’t look like a team languishing near the
bottom of the Eastern Conference as they held off the Predators 4-3
on Tuesday night.

”Quietly, we’re putting some points together,” Carolina coach
Kirk Muller said. ”We’re in every game, and that’s all I ask of
them because they try and they compete. We got six out of eight
points, and we knew this was an important stretch. The month has
been good.”

Carolina rallied from deficits twice in the second period before
taking control. Bryan Allen scored early in the third period to
give the Hurricanes a two-goal advantage.

Allen, a defenseman who was the subject of trade rumors before
the NHL deadline passed on Monday, scored on a breakaway after he
came out of the penalty box. It was his first goal of the season,
and it came after he served the only penalty called against the
Hurricanes.

”I really couldn’t tune it out, especially when your name is
sort of involved,” Allen said of the rumors. ”It was nice to get
a goal. It turned out to be the game-winner. But the penalty kill
that came before it was huge.”

Nashville’s Gabriel Bourque scored less than a minute later – at
2:16 of the third period – to cut Carolina’s lead to 4-3, but the
Predators couldn’t tie it.

”We almost pulled it out,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
”We were urgent in the third period and played more of our game.
We’ve played five games in eight nights and we were really tired.
That’s no excuse, but sometimes you get tired mentally and you
don’t have the juice. In the end, it ended up being the special
teams that made the difference.”

The Predators, who had won four of five, lost in regulation for
only the sixth time since Dec. 28. Nashville is off until Saturday
and will have time to integrate a bunch of new players acquired at
the deadline into the lineup.

Defenseman Hal Gill played in his sixth game for Nashville, and
left wing Andrei Kostitsyn made his Predators debut after being
acquired from Montreal on Monday. Fellow forward Paul Gaustad, who
came over from Buffalo, was held out of the lineup because of an
upper body injury.

Eric Staal and Tim Brent scored power-plays goals in the second
after Jamie McBain opened Carolina’s scoring earlier in the
period.

Craig Smith scored the game’s first goal for Nashville at 2:42
of the first. Colin Wilson’s unassisted goal at 12:31 of the second
gave the Predators a 2-1 lead.

Carolina outshot the Predators 33-29, keeping Nashville goalie
Anders Lindback busy. Hurricanes counterpart Cam Ward returned to
the lineup after missing three games because of injury. Ward made
26 saves to earn his first win against the Predators.

”I was anxious to get back in there,” Ward said. ”The boys
played a heck of a game against a very, very good hockey team. The
first couple of periods I didn’t have a whole lot to do, but the
third period they came at us pretty good. I was fortunate enough to
make the saves late in the game.”

The Hurricanes broke a six-game losing streak to Nashville,
including a 5-2 road defeat on Jan. 7 in which they gave up four
power-play goals.

Carolina went 2 for 5 on the power play in this matchup, ending
an eight-game stretch in which the Predators didn’t allow a
man-advantage goal.

NOTES: Staal had a goal and two assists to extend his point
streak to nine games. … Carolina broke a string of back-to-back
shootout losses. … Eight of Smith’s 12 goals have been scored on
the road. … Bourque has points in three straight games, one goal
and three assists.