Hurricanes ready to return home to face Predators

Dec 14, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov (52) makes a save in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After finding some momentum at the end of a six-game road trip, the Carolina Hurricanes return home to host the Nashville Predators on Friday in Raleigh, N.C.

The Hurricanes were only 2-4-0 on the road swing, but salvaged the trip by winning their last two games. Carolina’s last stop was a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, with Jordan Staal capitalizing on a misplay by Wings goalie Ville Husso to score the game-winning goal 11:49 into the second period.

“Started (as) the road trip from hell for a bit there, and obviously the boys grinded the last few and found a way to get in a little bit of a groove,” Staal said.

The victory in Detroit improves Carolina’s away record to a modest 8-10-0, as the team has enjoyed far more success on home ice. The Hurricanes are 8-2-1 in Raleigh this season, and the Predators’ visit marks the start of a three-game homestand.

Nashville is 6-7-0 in away games this season, but 4-1-0 in its last five road dates. That recent success has come within an 11-3-0 overall mark for the Predators in their last 14 games, as the team has rebounded strongly after a slow start to the season.

The Predators’ 3-2 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday saw them surrender a 2-0 lead and get outshot by a 39-22 margin. However, goalie Juuse Saros stopped 37 of the Flyers’ shots, and Filip Forsberg scored 18 seconds into overtime to secure the two points for Nashville.

“Obviously on the coaching part, we’re not too proud of the amount of shots we’re giving up,” Predators coach Andrew Brunette said. “But individually for (Saros), outstanding, kind of as expected, as advertised. I think he’s getting a little bit more comfortable in the way we play a little bit.”

Philadelphia’s 39 shots were tied for the most by any Predators opponent this season. This doesn’t bode well against the Hurricanes, whose 34.2 shots-per-game average is among the best in the NHL.

Saros has a .953 save percentage and a 5-0-0 record over his last five games. Because the Predators also play Saturday against the Washington Capitals, Saros and Kevin Lankinen figure to split the back-to-back starts in some order.

Likewise for Carolina, Pyotr Kochetkov’s start against the Red Wings on Thursday means that Antti Raanta will probably be in net against Nashville. Raanta has struggled to an .860 save percentage over 13 games this season, and has recently been losing playing time to the in-form Kochetkov.

Forsberg leads all Nashville skaters in goals (15) and assists (18) this season.

Hurricanes forward Jack Drury has four points (one goal, three assists) during a four-game points streak.

Two of the NHL’s hottest penalty-kill units will battle Friday. The Hurricanes are 20-for-20 on penalty kills in their last seven games, while the Predators are 19-for-20 on kills in their last six games.

Nashville won both meetings with Carolina last season.

–Field Level Media

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