On the excitement meter for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the matchup between the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes has to top the list. After winning the first two games on home ice quite comfortably, the Canes find themselves deadlocked at two games apiece after losing a pair of heart-pounding double overtime games in the Music City. If momentum is a thing the Preds certainly have it and look to move closer to posting another first round upset. A few years ago they knocked off the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks en route to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
This NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game takes place on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 and will air live on CNBC with puck drop at 8 p.m. ET from PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.
Nashville Predators vs Carolina Hurricanes Odds
Money Line: Predators +166 | Hurricanes -195
Series to Date
If they are going to win the series the Preds will need a victory in Carolina, something they haven’t done all season. A nice closing run to the regular season allowed Nashville to hold off Dallas for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. They went 6-2 over their final eight games, including a pair of wins over Carolina in the final two games of the season when they were dogs on the moneyline.
At this point there are no secrets between the clubs. They met eight times during the regular season and have faced each other in the last six contests overall with the home team winning each of those games. The Preds were outscored 8-2 in losing the first two games of the series in Raleigh and they went 0-4 scoring a total of five goals in four regular season road games.
The Canes did everything but win a game in Nashville and they find themselves one slip up away from being down in the series. The good news is that they were one of the best home teams during the season posting a 20-3-5 record that included four wins over the Preds. The bad news is that the odds of them continuing that dominance have started to dwindle. And the Canes are likely getting frustrated with their lack of success against Nashville netminder Juuse Saros. The canes had 56 shots on goal in Game 3 and peppered Saros with 61 shots in Game 4 but had only seven goals and two losses to show for their effort.
The key for Nashville is to continue the momentum from their two home wins that evened the series. And also make sure Saros stays red-hot in net. After posting a 2.28 goals against average and .927 save percentage in 36 regular season games, Saros has played every minute of the postseason stopping 171 of 184 shots. The Preds are used to having a goalie stand on his head during the postseason. When they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 Pekka Rinne stopped nearly everything that came his way showing once again that a hot goalie can carry a team.
Scoring was a problem during the regular season with the Preds ranked 22nd in goals per game and they’ve scored just seven goals in six games in Raleigh. Fixing the power play could help that problem. Nashville is just 2 of 19 with the man advantage in the series and they have yet to score a PPG on the road.
The Canes remain a confident group despite the two recent setbacks. Rod Brind’Amour was happy with his team’s effort but they failed to take advantage of their opportunities. “Eventually they are going to score if we don’t score. We couldn’t find a way to get one, but I love the way our guys are playing,” the coach said. And the Canes have done their best work at home where they’ve owned the Preds this season. While you might be thinking about fading the Canes in this game, don’t.
Sure, the Canes are a big favorite on the moneyline and they dropped the last two, but home ice is where they shine. They outscored the Preds 23-7 in six home games this season and covered the puck line in the last five. Carolina has the better offensive team and I don’t expect the Preds to tickle the twine as much with the Canes locking down.
Predators vs Hurricanes Prediction
Our picks: Carolina Hurricanes -195 and UNDER 5.5
The Canes outplayed Nashville for long stretches over the last two games but didn’t get a win to show for it. The better team doesn’t always win, but Carolina never gave up despite being denied. It won’t take much for the Canes to regain momentum in the series and an early lead is what can do it. They’ll continue to pressure Saros, who will crack eventually, and the Canes will march to the victory.
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