By Amanda DiPaolo
Wednesday night, Nashville played its first road game of the year beating the Chicago Blackhawks by a 3-2 score. Joel Ward scored in the final minute to break a 2-2 tie as Anders Lindback got the win in his first start in the NHL. Lindback made 23 saves on the night.
Chicago opened the scoring on their second shot of the night. Patrick Kane got his second tally of the season 4:48 into the game with a wrist shot that found its way over the shoulder of Anders Lindback. It was a power play goal with Joel Ward in the box for hooking.
Nashville didn’t trail for long. With both team captains in the box for coincidental interference calls, Steve Sullivan scored 6:37 into the period on a feed from Cal O’Reilly.
Nashville had one power play opportunity in the first period when defenseman John Scott was called for holding on Patric Hornqvist with 7:30 left to play, but the Predators were unable to capitalize. In fact, Chicago’s penalty kill was tight. Nashville was unable to set up in the offensive zone to get any quality power play shots on goal.
Before the end of the first period, the Blackhawks would take a 2-1 lead when Jonathon Toews scored with only 3 minutes left to play. Marian Hossa stole the puck from Hornqvist, passed the puck to Tomas Kopecky who threw it over to Toews and the captain was able to get the puck behind Linback.
The Predators did not look sharp during the second period. Stuck in their own end for nearly 2 minutes, Nashville had to eventually ice the puck after 5 shots on Lindback. Trotz had to call a timeout because JP Dumont, Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi had been on the ice for what would amount to three shifts. Since Nashville iced the puck, the players weren’t able to leave the ice.
Chicago outshot the Predators 11-7 in the second period. Nashville’s first shot on goal I the middle frame came 6:30 minutes in, when Hornqvist took a shot on goal as he crossed the blue line. The Predators were lucky to escape the second period with the score remaining 2-1.
Starting the third period from behind is not where any team wants to start, but at 4:43 into the final period, Colin Wilson’s wrist shot was deflected off Jordan Hendry into the net to tie the game at 2. Nashville’s tying goal gave the Predators some early momentum in the third as they were finally able to sustain some offensive zone time.
Nashville dominated the third period. With less than 4 minutes left, David Legwand let a bullet go from the slot only to hit the post. On the same shift, the Blackhawks went up the ice and rang one off the post behind Lindback. Chances for the Stanley Cup champions were scarce in the third with Nashville holding the Blackhawks to only 4 shots during the entire third period.
With 2:!3 left in the game, Nick Boynton was called for delay of game when he shot the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. Nashville had been 0-2 on the power play and was unable to sustain any pressure on either of the two earlier power plays. But this time the Predators would not be denied as Joel Ward scored into an empty net with 26.7 seconds to go for Nashville to take a 3-2 lead. Legwand had the puck in the corner, passed it down to Dumont who attracted all the coverage, then threw the puck across to Ward.
The Legwand, Smithson and Ward line did a good job at playing an aggressive forechecking game and at the same time as handling Hossa and Toews were also able to put up an offense. Sullivan, O’Reilly and Hornqvist were also impressive.
Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson sat out Wednesday night, serving the first of a two game suspension.
Last season, the Predators also started the season 2-0-0 before going on to lose the next 6 games. Nashville plays 4 games in the next 7 days at Bridgestone Arena as St. Louis, Washington, Calgary and Pittsburgh all come to town. This homestand is very important for the tone of the season early on.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. Predators upcoming home games tonight against the Blues and Saturday against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.