Hurricanes 5, Predators 2

Matt Rybaltowski, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Heading into an interconference matchup, neither Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller nor Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz expected a flurry of scoring.
Each team ranked in the bottom third in the NHL in scoring and both were one of only seven teams in the league to average fewer than 2.40 goals per game.
But by the second intermission on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, the teams combined for six goals -- two from Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner. Carolina's two-goal lead after two periods held up as the Canes defeated the Predators 5-2 to win their second straight game on the road.
Carolina's offensive woes may be a thing of the past if Skinner can become the sure-fire goal scorer the Canes lacked in recent seasons. Skinner, a third-year forward, had the first hat trick of his young career.
With the Hurricanes (12-12-5) trailing 2-1 early in the second period, Skinner scored in transition when his soft wrist shot from the right circle deflected off Predators goalie Marek Mazanec's right leg pad and trickled into the net. Skinner's goal ignited a stretch of three Canes goals in 13 minutes as Carolina handed Nashville (13-13-3) its fourth straight loss.
Roughly five minutes later, Riley Nash gave the Hurricanes the lead for good with his second goal of the season.
Nash trailed the play on a three-on-two break and was the recipient of a nifty pass from right winger Patrick Dwyer. Skating along the right flank, Dwyer drew the puck back to an open Nash, who one-timed it into the goal.
Skinner added his second goal at 19:08 of the second period with a high slap shot into the left corner of the net over Mazanec's glove. Mazanec was pulled for Carter Hutton after the second intermission.
The Predators took the lead with two goals within the opening three minutes of the second period. First, Nashville center Mike Fisher tied the score at 1 when he redirected a slap shot from defenseman Victor Bartley past Canes goalie Justin Peters at 0:50 of the second.
The Predators took their only lead of the game at 2:41 of the period when left winger Viktor Stalberg scored his third goal of the season on a backhand rebound.
Peters, who finished with 20 saves, improved to 6-7-1 on the season.
NOTES: Predators G Marek Mazanec received NHL Rookie of the Month honors for November after posting a 5-4-1 record with a 2.00 goals-against-average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 appearances during the month. Mazanec surrendered three goals through two periods on Thursday night, marking the second straight game that he allowed more than two goals. Before Tuesday's loss to Vancouver, Mazanec went nine straight starts without surrendering three goals. ... Entering Thursday night's game, Predators rookie D Seth Jones led all first-year NHL players in average ice time per game (23:55). The figure is almost three minutes more than the next closest rookie, Jacob Trouba of Winnipeg. Jones has the top six ice times by rookies in the league this season. ... Hurricanes RW Alexander Semin missed his ninth consecutive game with a concussion. Hurricanes D Tim Gleason, D Brent Bellemore and RW Kevin Westgarth were also scratched. ... Hurricanes C Jeff Skinner netted at least two goals for the second consecutive game. In Tuesday's win over the Capitals, Skinner tied a career high with two goals in a 4-1 victory.

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