Saturday, October 18, 2014

Predators Fall In OT to the Blackhawks 2-1

The Nashville Predators played their second road game of the year, the second of a back to back, against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators went with Carter Hutton in net while the Hawks had Corey Crawford between the pipes.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring on the first shot of the game as Johnny Oduya blasted a slapshot between the pads of Hutton at 1:49 of the first period.

Certainly not the way you want to start a game against a high powered team like the Blackhawks.

The Predators would answer at 11:17 of the first period as Shea Weber unleashed a bomb from inside the blue line that beat Crawford over the shoulder.

Both teams would make those scores stand up for the remainder of regulation. it was not for lack of effort by the Blackhawks, however, as they attacked all night and kept the Predators on their heels. The Hawks peppered Hutton with shots and had numerous quality scoring chances. Hutton had to make some excellent saves to keep the Hawks off the board.

In the overtime, the Predators had a power play, but Craig Smith tried a blind back pass to Roman Josi that was picked off by Jonathan Toews. Toews broke in alone on Hutton, who made the initial stop but Toews was able to gather the rebound and slide it into the net for the game winner.

After not giving up a shorthanded goal all last season, the Predators were victimized by this turnover and goal and it cost them a point.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton got his first start of the season and was scored on with the first shot he faced. Johnny Oduya blew an unscreened shot through the legs of Hutton. Game speed must be different than practice speed. That said, Hutton was under siege all night and made some great saves to keep the Predators in the game.

  • The first period saw the Predators revert to last season's form as the Blackhawks totally dominated possession and shots on goal. The Blackhawks out shot the Predators 11-3, and the Predators were extremely fortunate to escape with the game tied. For the game, the Hawks out shot the Predators 34-17 in regulation and 3-1 in the overtime period.

  • Anton Volchenkov continues to deliver big and timely hits and is a strong physical presence for the Predators. he absolutely blew up Brandon Saad at the blue line in the first period.

  • The Blackhawks speed created problems all night for the Predators, resulting in them taking too many penalties, five in all. Playing a talented team like the Hawks a man down is not a formula for winning a critical divisional contest.

  • The Predators finally got their legs going in the third period and created some good scoring chances, most notably a shot by Craig Smith at a wide open top half of the net, but he was not able to lift the puck over the pad of Crawford. That is a shot that Smith has to bury.

  • Frankly, the Predators were lucky to steal appoint in this contest. Whether it was fatigue from playing the night before (I hope this was it) or that the Hawks clearly have a superior talent advantage (in reality), the Predators could not find an offensive rhythm and were backed into their zone most of the night. The Hawks did a good job of disrupting the Predators breakouts and shutting them down in the offensive zone. Admittedly, this team does not have the talent of the Hawks, but this team has to have a better effort from the forwards to create scoring chances if they want to compete in the division.

  • Shea Weber led the team in TOI with 28:21.
As badly outplayed as the Predators were tonight, they still managed to pick up a point and have not lost in regulation this season. This team is going to have to scrap and fight for every point.

So far, they have shown they will do that.

My three stars:

1. Jonathan Toews

2. Carter Hutton

3. Shea Weber

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