Matt Duchene scored two goals and the Nashville Predators defeated the visiting Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 in a preview of a first-round Central Division playoff series Monday night.
The Predators (31-23-2, 64 points), who two nights earlier clinched the fourth seed in the division by snapping Carolina’s 13-game points streak, also received goals from Rocco Grimaldi, Ryan Johansen and Tanner Jeannot. Johansen and Jeannot both had assists.
Nashville’s Pekka Rinne made 30 saves, recording 10 in each period. Rinne has two of the Predators’ four shutouts this season.
The result dashed Carolina’s bid for the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record unless Vegas fails to register a point in its final two games and the teams end up with 80 points apiece.
The Hurricanes (36-12-8, 80 points) have lost their last three games, including the past two in regulation. Nashville finished 2-5-1 in the regular season against Carolina after failing to win in the first six matchups.
The divisional champion Hurricanes will hold home-ice advantage when the best-of-7 series starts on a to-be-announced date.
Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, whose record dropped to 6-2-3, stopped 22 shots and might have hurt his bid to be the starter in the playoff opener. He faced only five shots in the final period, allowing one goal in that span.
Carolina held out several of its key players for precautionary reasons, a situation probably heightened because defenseman Jaccob Slavin exited Saturday night’s game with an injury. However, left winger Jordan Martinook returned after a nine-game absence because of a lower-body injury.
The Hurricanes were shutout victims for just the second time this season. They’ve scored a total of two goals in their past three games.
Nashville, which won seven of its last 10 regular-season games, held a 2-0 lead less than 4 1/2 minutes into the game with goals by Grimaldi and Duchene. It was 4-0 in the second period.
–Field Level Media