Predators’ Matt Duchene due to produce as playoffs near

By John Glennon

    Having already scored two of the Predators’ first four goals on Monday, Matt Duchene needed only to finish an easy tap-in for a hat trick during the team’s regular-season finale.

    He stood unguarded in the crease as the puck slid toward him, Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek still scrambling to get back into position. But Duchene somehow didn’t connect correctly on a point-blank backhand, getting too far under the puck and missing the net.

    So even on a night that saw Duchene increase his season goal-scoring total by 50 percent – from four to six – he was once again left pondering the one that got away.

    “It’s been a weird stretch almost since I got here in terms of weird bounces,” Duchene said. “That one (missed chance) I had in the second for the hat trick was kind of more par for the course than the first two (goals). But it’s good to put a couple in.”

    The Predators have to hope Duchene’s two-goal night against the Hurricanes will be a precursor of things to come for him in the playoffs, as Nashville faces an uphill climb against the Central Division champions.

    Perhaps the postseason will offer the opportunity to start fresh, a chance for Duchene to make some much . . .

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