Saturday, April 12, 2014

Predators Win a Wild One Against the Blackhawks

Two games to go in the season, games that are meaningless for the Nashville Predators. The first of those games would be at Bridgestone Arena against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Would the Predators mail it in against the powerful Hawks?

Absolutely not!

The Predators won a wild affair 7-5 in front of a capacity crowd that was almost evenly split between fans of both teams.

Until a Shea Weber empty net goal sent the hawks fans scrambling for the exits.

Both teams combined to score 7 goals in a wild third period. The Predators scored twice in the final minute to seal the win.

Chicago scored the first two goals of the game as Ben Smith and Marian Hossa tallied for the Blackhawks.

The ice was decidedly tilted in favor of the hawks until Craig Smith scored a beautiful goal off his faceoff win. he went top corner on Antti Raanta to make it 2-1 at the end of the first period.

Ryan Ellis tied the game at the 6:32 mark of the second period.

Matt Carey scored his first NHL goal to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead at 13:16 of the second period.

That set up a wild third period.

Matt Cullen tied the game, chipping in a rebound of a Mike Fisher shot. Colin Wilson put the Predators in the lead for the first time as he slapped home a rebound of a Shea Weber shot.

The game was tied at 4 by Jeremy Morin at the 8:00 minute mark of the third period.

Paul Gaustad gave the Predators a 5-4 lead, taking a pass from Craig Smith and blowing a shot from the slot past Raanta.

The Predators could not hold the lead as Andrew Shaw beat Pekka Rinne with a slap shot at 18:25 of the third period.

Looking like the game would go to overtime, the Predators refused to relent and pressured Raanta and the Hawks defense. That effort paid off as Patric Hornqvist drove the net a potted a rebound of a Matt Cullen shot at 19:01 of the third period.

Shea Weber sealed the win with an empty net goal at 19:46.

Some observations:

  • The Hawks had a tremendous advantage in zone time in the first period. The Predators rarely visited the offensive zone and Rinne was forced to deal with a lot of traffic in front of his net. The Hawks generally created havoc in front of the Predators netminder throughout the game and did a good job of taking away Rinne's vision on some of their goals. Rinne was not especially sharp tonight, but dis make some big saves during the course of the game.

  • Raanta had a relatively easy first period, but when the Predators started getting shots on goal and driving the net, he was unable to handle the pressure. The Predators did a good job in the final 40 minutes of getting shots on goal and driving the net for rebounds.

  • Patric Hornqvist has a goal and an assist tonight to give him 52 points for the season, a career high. Hornqvist has 17 points (9G-8A) in his last 10 games.

  • Shea Weber also set a career high of 55 points (22G-33A) with a goal and an assist tonight.

  • Weber joins Hornqvist and Craig Smith as team leaders in goals, each with 22.

  • Pekka Rinne picked up his 10th win of the year.

  • Marian Hossa did not play for the Blackhawks after the first period.

  • The Predators are 8-1-2 in their last 11 games. The captured the season series with the Hawks, winning 4 of 5 contests.
This was a resilient, character win for the Predators. They could have easily rolled over, going down 2 goals in the first period.

Instead, the battled and never quit.

This is something to build upon in the coming season.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Craig Smith

3. Paul Gaustad

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