By Amanda DiPaolo
The threat of a severe rain storm loomed outside but fans filled the Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night. The sold out crowd saw the Nashville Predators get shut out in consecutive games, dropping their third straight in a 3-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Most of the first period was controlled by the Predators who out shot the Blackhawks 5-0 in the opening few minutes. The clock was nearing the 6 minute mark into the period when Chicago registered their first shot on goal. But the Blackhawks got on the board with just under three minutes to play in the first and the tone for the rest of the game was set.
Thomas Kopecky scored with only 2:47 left to play when he skated into the play as the extra attacker for Chicago when the referee signaled Nashville was getting a penalty.
Patrick Sharp found Kopecky in the right circle where he beat Rinne with a snap shot. It was his 11th goal of the season. Jonathan Toews picked up the other assist.
Early in the second, the Blackhawks had a couple solid scoring chances, but Rinne kept the Predators in the game.
Duncan Keith skated in from the blue line and found himself unguarded squarely in front of Rinne, but the Finnish goaltender was up to the task and saved what appeared to be a sure goal.
It looked like Chicago had taken a 2-0 lead less than two minutes into the middle frame, but upon video review the official ruling was that there was no goal on the play. Ryan Johnson crashed into Rinne and it looked as though the puck had slide past the goal line as Rinne was sliding into the net as well.
The Predators were not without their chances. Player after player could not capitalize on tip in’s into empty nets. David Legwand and Shea Weber each missed an open net within a minute of each other.
Unable to find the equalizer, early in the third period Marian Hossa collected his 14th goal of the season on a breakaway at 2:35. The goal was unassisted as Hossa’s breakaway was due to a turnover by Nashville.
Corey Crawford made 31 saves in a night where the Predators were unable to generate any offense though Nashville did think they pulled within goal when Colin Wilson scored with 5:59 left to play. But the goal was waved off because Legwand contacted Crawford. He wasn’t assessed a penalty for goaltender interference, but the goal didn’t count.
It was the second time in three games for Nashville when a goal was called back due to illegal contact. Thursday night, however, it appeared that Legwand had been cross checked into Crawford by a Blackhawks. Had the goal been allowed to stand, much needed momentum could have been generated for the Predators.
Patrick Sharp added the empty net goal with under a minute to play.
The game was Jonathan Blum’s second game in the NHL. Playing over 21 minutes, Blum ranked 3rd on the team in total ice time (behind only Shea Weber and Ryan Suter), was even, had 2 shots, 2 missed shots, blocked 2 shots, and two takeaways, one give away as well as 2 hits.
Blum understands the Western Conference playoff race. “The last two games have been playoff-type games. Just intense. Every play matters. We have to do a better job, score some goals. It’s nice to come in and have the coaches have confidence in me and play in these types of games,” he said.
Nashville finds itself in 9th place in the ever competitive Western Conference standings. Five teams, including Nashville, have 70 points on the season.
Up next for the Predators is an afternoon game on Saturday in Dallas. Game time is at 1 pm. Nashville’s next home game is Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. Tickets are still available.
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