So you want to play the defending Stanley Cup champs in your first road game of the year. And you want to do it with two rookie goaltenders.
Certainly doesn't sound like a formula for success, does it?
Even without starting netminder Pekka Rinne, who stayed back in Nashville nursing an injury, the Predators prevailed over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 behind rookie Anders Lindback first start in net.
Joel Ward got the game winner with 26.7 seconds left in the contest with the Predators on the power play. Ward took a nice feed from J.P. Dumont and had an open net in which to shoot the puck. Ward made no mistake in burying the shot and subsequently the Blackhawks.
Imagine how Lindback must have felt.
"Kid, you're getting your first start. Oh yeah. It's against the Blackhawks. On the road."
Chicago fired 10 shots on Lindback in the first period, scoring on their second shot 4:48 in as Patrick Kane lasered a shot over the glove side shoulder of Lindback while the Hawks were on the power play.
Steve Sullivan tied the game at 6:37 of the period, beating Corey Crawford off assists from Cal O'Reilly and Ryan Suter.
Jonathan Toews gave Chicago the lead once again at 16:58 of the first with a goal off a nice assist from Marian Hossa.
The second period was scoreless, but certainly not for lack of effort by both teams. Chicago shelled Lindback early in the period and outshot the Predators 8-1 the first six minutes into the period. Lindback was steady and got good help from his defense clearing the front of the net.
Nashville turned the tables and tilted the ice in the second half of the period, outshooting the Hawks 6-1. For the period, the Hawks outshot the Predators 11-7.
Lindback and the Predators held the Hawks off the board in the third period. Corey Crawford was also strong in net, making some good stops on the Predators. The Predators offensive intensity in the third period was excellent as they controlled play and kept the puck in the Hawks end for much of the period. They put ten shots on Crawford in the third.
The Predators would tie the game at 2 when Colin Wilson took a feed from Marcel Goc and fired a shot that was tipped by a Chicago defenseman and deflected over the shoulder of Crawford.
As good as the offensive effort was in the third period, the defensive effort was even better. The Predators limited the explosive Hawks offense to just four shots in the period. The Hawks had very few scoring chances and were stymied by the Predators defense in the offensive zone. They were unable to get a transition game going as the Predators controlled the neutral zone in the period and refused to let the Hawks establish an offensive flow.
For the game, the Predators outshot the Hawks 27-25.
The game turned on a delay of game penalty on Nick Boynton as he shot the puck over the glass at 17:47 of the period.
With the Predators on the power play, David Legwand slid the puck to J.P. Dumont at the side of the net. Dumont drew the defense to him and found a wide open Joel Ward who had an empty net to pot the game winner.
The Predators displayed perseverance and character in this win tonight. It would have been easy to say that they would not be in this game without their starting goaltender.
They did not.
This team did not back down. They took the best shot the Hawks had and were still fighting, still in the game.
And at the end, they were the best team.
My three stars of the game:
1. Anders Lindback
2. Joel Ward
3. Steve Sullivan