It was a stormy night outside, but inside the Sommet Center the Nashville Predators were able to calm the Carolina Hurricanes.
Predators goaltender Chris Mason turned back all 31 shots he faced for the 1-0 shutout of the Hurricanes, his fourth of the season. It was the first visit to Nashville for the Hurricanes since Dec. 3, 2002. The game was televised nationally on the Versus network.
“You look at the standings every day,” said Mason. “I need to start playing like this every night. I need to give the team a chance to win.
“Both Nashville and Carolina are good skating teams. Both sets of defensemen battle hard. They play five forwards on the power play, which is kind of unique in this league.”
The Predators’ lone goal was scored by left wing J.P Dumont at the 11:59 mark of the third period against Carolina goaltender Cam Ward. He had his 16-game points streak end Saturday night against Phoenix.
“It’s time to start another one,” said Dumont, who refused to talk about his previous streak until it was over. “We played five-on-five and did a really good job.
“It was pretty much a three-man breakaway. Arnott hit me with a backhand pass. I hit the (left) post and it went in. It was a great play all around. We know when we play all together we are going to be a tough team to beat.”
Arnott, returning to the ice after missing the Phoenix game 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. Mase 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.”
By the time Dumont scored, most of the Predators were resigned to the fact that one goal would decide the game. In response to the goal, the Predators took their defensive intensity to a higher level.
“The guys came up with huge goal when we needed it,” Mason said. “Luckily, one was enough. Arnott made a great play to J.P.
“Once we scored the guys did an awesome job of not really giving Carolina anything. They got into our zone a couple of times, but they really didn’t get any scoring chances.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz was pleased with everything except the way his team started off the first period.
“I thought we might need 10 after the first shift of the game when we gave up two two-on-ones,” Trotz said. “After the first three or four minutes we got our legs back under us and started to push more. Once both teams settled down it was clear there weren’t going to be too many goals.”
STAY AWHILE: Announcements were made in the third period 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.
“One of the referees came over with nine minutes to go and said we might have to evacuate because of the weather,” 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 right to the shootout.”
WELCOME BACK: Right wing Scott Walker, one of the original Predators players, plays for the Hurricanes. He was traded to Carolina on July 18, 2006. He was honored with a video tribute during the game.
“It’s odd to see him wear a red-and-white jersey instead of blue-and-gold,” Trotz said. “He was a big part of this franchise. I thought it was a classy move that we honored him. He will always be one of the special guys.”