The Carolina Hurricanes suffered a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday night at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
The Hurricanes were riding high early into the third period on the offensive output provided by forward Alexei Ponikarovsky who tallied two goals on the night.
The question of whether Ponikarovsky would come in and contribute to the offense was answered as the ‘Poni Express’ galloped through the Predators defense with goals delivered early in both the first and third periods respectively.
No time wasted
Ponikarovsky opened the game’s scoring only 31 seconds after the puck dropped to start the game and then improved on that mark as his second goal took him only 17 seconds to score from the faceoff at the beginning of the third period.
Both goals included linemate Eric Staal recording assists on the score sheet and provided a great look of the success that both players being on the same line could have during the season.
In speaking to Ponikarovsky’s game head coach Paul Maurice stated, “we need him to put the puck in the net and go to the net. “
Maurice pointed out that he was more impressed with how Ponikarovsky scored both goals by using his size and strength to drive to the net and anticipates that such play will open up opportunities for Staal in the future, similar to what Mats Sundin benefited from when he played with Ponikarovsky in Toronto.
Dual right handers on the blue line
Rookie defensemen Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk were paired up together in playing only their second professional NHL games of their young careers.
Both indicated that they were a little nervous playing their first game in front of the Hurricanes faithful but felt more comfortable as the game progressed.
“My first game obviously I was a little nervous, and this game I’m not going to lie, I was still a little bit nervous. It was my first time playing in front of this crowd but I had a lot of fun,” Murphy said.
After leading 2-1, the Hurricanes all of a sudden found themselves trailing 3-2 with 13 minutes remaining.
With the minutes winding down, the two youngsters did not hesitate in trying to create offensive opportunities to even the score which impressed Maurice.
“I liked them jumping up as the game got a little later. I don’t think when you went back and assessed the game if you knew the ages you’d rate them by their age,” Maurice stated.
Now entering the’ thick’ of training camp and with the roster shrinking by the day, both Murphy and Faulk hope to get another opportunity to play in front of a home crowd.
The Hurricanes’ next game takes place on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets and will take place at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, home of the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.
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