Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rinne Leads the Predators to 2-0 Win Over the Blackhawks

The last time the Nashville Predators played the Chicago Blackhawks, it took them about a half period to get their legs going and to make a game of it.

In tonight's contest at the United Center, it took the Predators a bit longer, but once they did, it was good enough to jump out to another lead against the talented Hawks.

Mike Fisher re-directed a shoot from Ryan Ellis past Corey Crawford at 18:38 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Pekka Rinne stopped 11 shots in the first period and had to be sharp to thwart some quality scoring chances by the Blackhawks.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Gabriel Bourque used his speed down the wing to get open. Bourque ripped a shot over the shoulder of Crawford and inside the far post at 17:35. Calle Jarnkrok picked up his second NHL point with an assist on the goal.

Rinne stopped 9 shots in the second period and made several solid saves with traffic in front.

The Predators were going to have to withstand the push that the Blackhawks would inevitably bring in the third period if they were going to capture this win.

The Predators did a very good job of doing just that, limiting the Blackhawks to just 6 shots through 17:46 of the third period, when the Hawks pulled Crawford for the extra attacker.

Rinne stood tall and made some great saves and the defense did a good job of clearing the puck out of the zone and as improbable as it might sound, the Predators shut out the high powered Blackhawks 2-0.

Some observations:

  • Patric Hornqvist was not in the line up as he returned home to welcome the birth of his first child. Daughter Isabella was welcomed into the world today and congratulations to Patric and his family.

  • Filip Forsberg was called up to replace Hornqvist, and he played on the fourth line with Colton Sissons and Rich Clune. Logic of that line placement eludes me.

  • The Predators lost the service of Seth Jones after the first period with an upper body injury. Jones was the recipient of a thunderous hit along the boards that up ended him onto the ice. The extent of Jones' injury is unknown.

  • I really liked the play of the line of Jarnkrok, Bourrque, and Craig smith. They showed some good jump and created some good chances. Bourque in particular has raised his game over the last 4 contests and is skating hard and driving the net. This is something that the Predators have needed all season, and it good to see Bourque playing the way many thought he could.

  • The Predators captured the season series with the Blackhawks with a 3-1 record.

  • This was only the second time this season that the Blackhawks had been shut out.

  • Rinne was superb tonight. He looked calm in net and tracked the puck well through traffic. He made some high quality saves and this game was a 180 degree turn around from his effort against Calgary. This was Rinne's first shut out of the season.
A solid effort by the Predators tonight as they skated well, got good goaltending from Rinne, and some opportunistic scoring.

Sounds like Predator hockey.

Now the boys need to finish the season playing this way.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mike Fisher

3. Gabriel Bourque

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