Alexander Nedeljkovic of Parma, OH, recorded his first National Hockey League career playoff shutout on Wednesday. The 25-year-old who only played in six games over three seasons prior to his remarkable 2020-21 season, made 32 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Nashville Predators 3-0 in game two of the Central Division semi-final from the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. With the win, the Hurricanes lead the Predators two games to none in the best out of seven series.
Nedeljkovic made nine saves in the first period, 15 saves in the second period and eight saves in the third period. Predators captain Roman Josi of Bern, Switzerland, who won the 2020 Norris Trophy, led the Predators with eight shots on goal.
The Hurricanes were led offensively by Sebastian Aho of Rauma, Finland. Aho scored twice and was the only Hurricanes player with a multi-point game. He scored the game-winning goal at 8:03 of the first period on the power play from Andrei Svechnikov of Barnaul, Russia, and Dougie Hamilton, Ontario. Aho then scored a key insurance marker with 53 seconds left in the game into an empty net that put Carolina up 2-0. Brett Pesce of Tarrytown, NY picked up the lone assist. The other Hurricanes goal scorer was Warren Foegele of Markham, Ontario, who scored with 28 seconds left in the game and put Carolina up 3-0. Foegele’s goal was not into an empty net, as the Predators put Juuse Saros back in the pipes after Carolina went up 2-0.
Nedeljkovic had three shutouts in the regular season, his first three shutouts of his career. He blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on February 20, blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on March 22, and the Florida Panthers 3-0 on April 8.
In 23 games this season, Nedeljkovic had a record of 15 wins, five regulation losses, and three losses in extra time. He also had a goals against average of 1.90 and a save percentage of .932, which led the NHL in each category.