Ekholm the OT hero as Predators slip Hurricanes

Mattias Ekholm assisted on Paul Gaustad’s tying goal in the second and scored in overtime to get the Predators a 2-1 win over the Hurricanes.

Mattias Ekholm finally ended the Nashville Predators‘ overtime jinx on Saturday night.

The Swedish defenceman scored with 1:51 left in the extra period, lifting the Predators to a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes and their first overtime victory in seven tries this season.

Ekholm corralled a deflected pass from Filip Forsberg, skated in on Eddie Lack and beat the goalie top shelf.

“Obviously overtimes haven’t been our best so far,” Ekholm said. “We just tried to wait them out and go to offence as soon as we could. As it is, 3-on-3 is a break somewhere and you’ve got to make something happen. Fortunately I got that one past Lack tonight.”

Paul Gaustad tied the game for Nashville with a short-handed goal in the second period. Ekholm assisted and Gaustad got his first goal of the season.

Victor Rask put Carolina ahead 8:58 into the first with his 11th goal.

Nashville’s Pekka Rinne had 27 saves and Lack stopped 19.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette praised Carolina’s defensive pressure.

“We were a little bit slow catching up to that in the first 10 minutes of the first period,” said Laviolette, who coached the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup title in 2006. “But in the second I thought we turned it up really well.”

Nashville captain and defenceman Shea Weber played in his 724th game for the franchise, passing Martin Erat for second on the club’s career list. David Legwand played in 956 games.

Carolina’s Phil Di Giuseppe left with an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return. He assisted on Rask’s first-period goal.

“That was a real even game,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “I didn’t think there was much room either way. I thought it was tough to generate anything. I thought both teams had a hard time getting inside and getting grade-A scoring chances. It didn’t feel like we were as dangerous as we’d like to be.”

Then Nashville tied it with Gaustad’s deflection in the second.

“(Ekholm) was just getting the puck to the net and I thought if I got a stick on it, it had a better chance of going in,” Gaustad said. “I just threw the stick out there and was fortunate I got a great bounce on it.”

Nashville assistant Kevin McCarthy was an assistant with the Hurricanes from 1999-2009. The only remaining Carolina players from the 2006 team are captain Eric Staal and goalie Cam Ward.

NOTES: The Predators had won the teams’ only other meeting of the season 2-1 in Nashville on Oct. 8. … Carolina visits Edmonton on Monday night in the first of a two-game Western Canada trip. … Nashville hosts Winnipeg on Tuesday night before heading on a four-game road trip. … Carolina C Jay McClement missed the game with an illness after playing in 198 consecutive contests. D Michal Jordan was a healthy scratch for the Hurricanes. … The Predators’ healthy scratches were LW Austin Watson and D Anthony Bitetto and D Petter Granberg.

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