Inspired Game Three performances of Preds’ Duchene, Johansen should be more norm, less exception

By John Glennon

Summoned back to the ice as Game Three’s first star, Predators forward Matt Duchene opted against the traditional – and perfunctory – quick hand-to-the-helmet salute and wave.

    Instead, Duchene – adrenaline clearly still flowing after scoring the game-winning goal – pumped his fists to the fans repeatedly, screaming ”Let’s go!" at the top of his lungs.

    The Bridgestone Arena crowd of 12,135, largest to see an NHL game this season, ate it up, still reveling in the joy of the Preds’ 5-4 double-overtime victory over Carolina, which trimmed the Hurricanes’ lead to 2-1 in this first-round series.

    “I did that in Columbus a couple years ago and the crowd liked it,” Duchene explained of the celebration, “so I thought I’d do it again for the crowd here that I’ve been dying to play in front of in the playoffs for so long.”

    Maybe so, but Duchene’s highly energized – almost angry – post-game moment also looked like it carried with it some venting, a charged-up release of pent-up frustration.

    Things have not gone nearly as well as hoped for Duchene since he signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with the Predators in the summer of 2019. His production was sub-par last season, then . . .

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