The Predators play in the first period of tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks had many of the elements they wanted, but it wasn’t enough to claim their fourth-straight victory.
We highlighted before the game that Nashville needed to control the play in the first period (they are 12-0-1 when leading after first) and get big saves early from Carter Hutton if they wanted to set themselves up for the upset victory.
Nashville put 17 shots on the Hawks net in the first frame (17 to 10) and had three power plays opportunities but still found themselves trailing after the period.
Despite being outshot and taking three penalties, it was the Chicago Blackhawks that went one-for-one with the man advantage (Preds were one-for-three) and used a beautiful backhand goal by Patrick Kane to lead 2-1 after the first.
“We had one of our better first periods of the year, and yet we’re down 2-1,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “The Blackhawks are just a high executing team [...] they didn’t have a high number of chances, but they executed.”
After a strong first period (despite trailing 2-1) Nashville faltered over the next 20 minutes of game time, only placing four shots on net and giving up another power play goal to the Hawks in the second period.
“The turning point was the second period, they drew some penalties and we had the bad changes,” Trotz explained. “We took two, too-many-men penalties in that period and we gave them all the momentum.”
“The second period, we kind of did it to ourselves. We took way too many penalties and had several bad changes,” said Predators defenseman Roman Josi. “At the end of the day, they just won the special teams war.”
Chicago entered tonight’s contest having scored power play goals in their last nine games and made it 10-straight with two tallies with the man advantage (two-for-five on the PP). It was important for Nashville to win the special teams battle, and with a top ten penalty kill (eigth) and power play (ninth), it appeared they could hold their own, but that was not the case. The Preds went one-for-four on the power play and gave up two power play goals in five shorthanded chances.
Josi said: “They have a lot of skill up front, it’s tough against them. They come with a lot of different plays on the power play and they can make a lot of skilled plays.”
Nashville ends its home stand with a 2-1 record after losing 3-1 to the Hawks tonight. The club travels to Tampa Bay for a game on Thursday night; their first in a stretch of three straight against Eastern Conference opponents.