Matt Duchene made his first playoff game in Nashville with the Predators a moment to remember.
He scored his first goal of the series at 14:54 of the second overtime and the Predators beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 to cut their series deficit to 2-1.
“It was just amazing to play here at home,” Duchene said. “I was really disappointed last year when we went to the bubble and we didn’t have games here, so best fans in the NHL. It’s just incredible to play here, and yeah we needed that. It feels good.”
Now the Predators, 0-5 after trailing 2-0 in a best-of-seven series, will try to tie it Sunday in Game 4.
“It was another step in the right direction,” Predators forward Filip Forsberg said.
Duchene scored his first goal of the series in the longest game yet of this post-season and the third-longest in Predators’ history. Roman Josi flipped the puck to Duchene, who skated up the slot and flipped the puck over Alex Nedeljkovic for the victory.
Nashville is 4-3 in games going two or more overtimes.
Ryan Ellis had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund also scored for Nashville. Juuse Saros had his first career assist and tied the franchise record with 52 saves for only his second post-season victory.
Sebastian Aho had a goal and two assists for Carolina, and Jordan Staal, Vincent Trocheck and Brett Pesce also scored.
Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour made clear he wasn’t happy his Hurricanes were called for seven penalties for a second straight game. It could’ve been eight, but officials didn’t call them for delay of game when the puck went over the glass in the first overtime. Nashville finished with three penalties.
“We’re also fighting refs, that’s plain and simple,” Brind’Amour said.
He also didn’t like the hooking penalty on Max LaJoie in the second overtime at 11:40, saying it flipped the momentum. Nashville’s Eeli Tolvanen hit the post 38 seconds into that power play.
“They scored the next shift after because we were out of rotation,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s not how it should go. I didn’t tell them that, but I’m proud of my group because they just battled.”
Asked about Brind’Amour’s comments, Nashville coach John Hynes said, “I’m just focused on our team.”
Johansen put Nashville up 4-3 at 5:01 of the third, redirecting a shot by Ellis. But Pesce tied it with 3:21 left in regulation with a snap shot near the high slot.
Nashville had its biggest crowd in well over a year with capacity expanded to 12,135 for the playoffs, a move quickly followed by Carolina easing its restrictions for Game 1. Keith Urban sang the national anthem, and he and wife/actor Nicole Kidman were on the band stage during the first intermission.
Ellis’ wrister from the right boards through traffic put the Predators up 1-0 at 4:35 of the first period. It was Ellis’ first of this series but the seventh of his career, trailing only Shea Weber (13) and current captain Josi (10) for most among Predators defencemen.
Aho tied it up with his third goal of the series at 15:44. Aho shot the puck, which went off Josi’s backside and off Saros’ glove in the kind of luck the Preds didn’t need to go against them.
The Predators went up 2-1 when Mattias Ekholm flipped the puck that Forsberg tracked down in the left circle before beating Alex Nedeljkovic with a backhander with 24.5 seconds left in the first.
Staal tied it at 3:31 with his third goal this series on a breakaway, beating Saros with a wrister. Trocheck gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game 13 seconds into their second power play of the second period with a wrister from a tough angle, squeezing the puck between the post and Saros at 12:46 for a 3-2 lead.
Nashville is 1 of 17 in the series on the man advantage. Coach John Hynes switched up his players on the power-play unit, and the Predators got their best chance of the series with 90 seconds of a 5-on-3 at 14:05 of the second.
Warren Foegele already was in the box for putting the puck over the glass when Staal joined him for tripping at 14:05. Granlund tied it 37 seconds later, tapping the puck in with Nedeljkovic flat on his back.
Carolina had killed 29 of its last 30 penalties over the final eight regular-season games and the first two of this series.