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.