NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—After beating the Hurricanes, the Nashville Predators and their fans were most concerned with the weather outside the arena.
Late in the third period of Nashville’s 1-0 victory over Carolina on Tuesday night, announcements were made at the Sommet Center that downtown Nashville was under a tornado warning. Fans were told to stay in the arena until given permission to leave.
After the final buzzer, it was again announced that no one would leave the arena until there was news that the weather threat had passed. The fans were evacuated from the main seating area after the game, and allowed to leave the arena shortly after.
Fans and players could hear the thunder and the warning sirens.
“One of the referees came over with nine minutes to go and said we might have to evacuate because of the weather,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “At that time, it was still 0-0 and some of the guys on the bench thought maybe each team would be given a point and we would go right to the shootout.”
Trotz said he had never had a game called for the weather.
“I had one called because of a rodeo having been held in an arena,” Trotz said. “When the ice started getting cut up the dirt started coming through.”
Before all the weather worries, Chris Mason took care of the Hurricanes. Despite having never faced Carolina in a regular-season game, Mason stopped all 31 shots he faced to preserve the victory. It was his fourth shutout of the season.
“I was seeing the puck well and the guys were letting me see it,” Mason said. “We contained rebounds and eliminated second chances. I need to start playing like this every night. I need to give the team a chance to win.”
J.P. Dumont scored for the Predators, who have won four straight.
With the game scoreless in the third period, Dumont skated in on the left side of the slot. Jason Arnott made a back-handed pass sending the puck across the crease from the right circle. Dumont beat Cam Ward with a one-timer that went to his stick side and bounced off of the left post at 11:59.
“It was pretty much a three-man breakaway,” Dumont said. “It was a great play all around. We know when we play all together we are going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Hurricanes were most worried about missed opportunities both offensively and defensively.
“For the most part, I think we played pretty strong defensively up until the goal in the third period,” Ward said. “We can’t afford to be giving up a three-on-one in a tied hockey game late in the third period.
“I don’t think anyone is going to be satisfied with the way things went. We’ve got to score goals and pay the price to get in front of the net to try to get those dirty goals.”
Arnott, returning to the ice after missing the game against Phoenix Saturday night with a leg injury, earned an assist on Dumont’s goal. But he was frustrated that he failed to find the back of the net. The Predators hammered Ward with 34 shots.
“We had a lot of chances and couldn’t bury it on them,” Arnott said. “It was nice to get that one at the end and hold them off. Carolina has so much offensive power. We played real well defensively. Mason stole the show.
“It was great to see. Sometimes we get into 0-0 games and we let up a little bit. This time we didn’t. We kept pushing and pushing and playing great defense. We kept playing our system and waiting for them to break down. It was a solid team effort against a Carolina team that never stops working.”
Ward stopped 22 shots in the first 40 minutes for the Hurricanes, while Mason stopped 23 shots for the Predators in the same span of time as the teams were scoreless through two-plus periods.
“We were pretty slow getting out of the gate,” Mason said. “We had a couple of rough shifts at the beginning, but for the most part, we played a good, solid game.”
Nine Predators players, including both goaltenders, had never played a game against Carolina before. Arnott was back on the ice after missing the Phoenix game Saturday with a leg injury. This was the first time Carolina had played in Nashville since Dec. 3, 2002. This was the second stop on a five-game road trip for the Hurricanes.