Carolina, Nashville could use a breath — and breathing room

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Four overtimes. A total of 191 minutes, 4 seconds of hockey. Two hundred and fourteen shots on goal.

In just two games.

“Got to be mentally tough. You’ve got to stay ultra-focused and your detail has to be very sharp,” said Ryan Johansen, whose Predators won consecutive double-overtime games in Nashville to tie their Central Division playoff series against Carolina at two wins apiece. “All we’re going to do now is prepare for Game 5 and get some rest.”

Nashville goalie Juuse Saros tied the franchise record for saves in Game 3, and then set the mark with 58 saves Sunday. He is the second goalie since 1956 to record 50-plus saves in consecutive playoff games, joining Curtis Joseph (1993).

Saros’ 184 shots and 171 saves is the most for any goalie this postseason.

“He’s been our best player all year,” forward Luke Kunin said. “He’s a beast back there and we just want to help him out as much as we can.”

In the only NHL playoff series that has followed form, the Hurricanes are expecting the support from about 12,000 fans to push them to a victory in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Each of the first four games of the series has been won by the home team.

“We’re starting over. And we’re at home,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I thought I was going to have to pick the pieces up a little bit today, and I didn’t. … It’s a tough way to lose, when you give everything like that.”

The four overtimes in about 42 hours left the teams gasping for breath. They wouldn’t mind a little breathing room, either: Each of the first four games has been tied or within one goal into the third period or beyond.

“We’re in good shape,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “We’re able to play 60 (minutes), we’re rolling four lines. We’re not banged up. We don’t have injuries. So, you know, we’re in good shape.”

The Hurricanes have been without top defenseman Jaccob Slavin since the series-opening win; Brind’Amour said Slavin will “try it” on Tuesday but remains a game-time decision.

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Carolina, Nashville could use a breath — and breathing room originally appeared on NBCSports.com