2021 Stanley Cup playoffs: Staal leads Hurricanes past Predators in Game 1
Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes got off to a flying start in their first-round playoff series, defeating the Nashville Predators 5-2 in Game 1 of their Central Division first-round playoff series at PNC Arena in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Nino Niederreiter broke a 2-2 tie in the third period and Jordan Staal scored twice as Carolina gained the upper hand to start their series. Alex Nedeljkovic made 32 saves for the Hurricanes while Jusse Saros stopped 35 shots for Nashville.

Story of the game

There was some four-on-four action early on Nashville's Calle Jarnkrok got called for interference while Brock McGinn was whistled for embellishment for Carolina. Neither team scored during the four-on-four or on a power play they each had afterwards. 

Filip Forsberg opened the scoring as he weaved his way around the Carolina defense and sent one past Nedeljkovic to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Filip Forsberg receives congratulations from his teammates after giving Nashville an early lead in Game 1/Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Filip Forsberg receives congratulations from his teammates after giving Nashville an early lead in Game 1/Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Less than two minutes later, the Hurricanes evened things up as Brett Pesce lofted the puck in from the blue line and a re-direct by Teuvo Teravainen past Saros made the score 1-1.

The Hurricanes had another power play late in the first period after Ryan Johansen was whistled for tripping, but Nashville killed the penalty and the period ended at 1-1.

Early in the second period, Forsberg and Teravainen were each sent to the box and on the ensuing four-on-four, Staal worked his way past the Nashville defense and beat Saros top shelf from the side of the net to give Carolina the lead.

With Saros settling down, the Predators evened the score as Matt Duchene fed Erik Haula and the former Hurricane tied the game at two with a wrister. After exchanging power plays with no success, the period with the game still tied.

Carolina took control of the game in the third period. After an acrobatic save by Saros, Martin Necas passed to Niederreiter, who smoked one past the Nashville goalie to make the score 3-2. Staal flew a slow puck past a flurry of defenders that beat Saros to double the lead.

Nino Neiderreiter celebrates what turned out to be the game-winning goal in Game 1/Photo: Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images
Nino Neiderreiter celebrates what turned out to be the game-winning goal in Game 1/Photo: Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Late on, Saros was pulled for the extra attacker with the Predators still trailing 4-2, but Andrei Svechnikov scored into the empty net on a breakaway to cap the scoring and put Carolina out in front in the series.

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