The Nashville Predators triumphed over the Chicago Blackhawks for the third time this season with a 2-0 win at the United Center.
The win for Nashville–by many accounts–doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And that’s what makes hockey so great.
With a struggling goaltender, woeful offense and sitting 27 points back of Chicago before the contest, the odds weren’t exactly in the Predators favor to pull the upset.
The Predators put just 11 shots on the Blackhawks net over the game’s first 40 minutes while still building a 2-0 advantage. Nashville had 17 shots on target for the game as a opposed to nearly double that total from the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
After being pulled in both of his last two starts, Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne made 29 saves against the NHL’s top offensive lineup and registered his first shutout of the season.
“They have a really good team, but we seem to match up against them pretty well,” Rinne told NHL.com. “We have to play a defensive style of hockey against them. They have a lot of individuals who can change the momentum and change the game, but that team seems to get the best out of us.”
Last night’s win over the Blackhawks was the third victory in four tries for the Predators. Another upset win for the team from Music City that by most appearances is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the star-studded Chicago squad.
“We had a good start and we had a couple of great looks at the net,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville commented after the game. “[We] missed the net, missed the opportunities there, and they scored first. What happened after was exactly what happened [March 14]. They get the lead and they go into a check-fest and they check well.”
The game was also significant for other reasons for Nashville, the club debuted their top two prospects in an NHL game together for the first time. Swedish forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg were acquired by trade over the past two seasons on trade deadline days and have both been successful with Nashville’s minor league affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, this season. Last night was the first game of many to come, for Forsberg and Jarnkrok in a Predators uniform.
Jarnkrok maintained his torrid scoring pace since joining the Predators organization earlier this month, notching an assist for the second-straight game. The 22-year-old now has two points in two NHL games with the Predators, to go with seven points in five games with the Admirals.
With all the offensive talent up and down the Blackhawks lineup, including forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa who all have more points this season than the Predators leading scorer (Shea Weber), to see a forward playing in just his second NHL game be one of the major story lines is yet another mystery of the game.
Unlike other sports, any NHL team has a chance to pull off an upset over one of the league’s top clubs on any given night and that’s what makes hockey so great. Sometimes how they the claim victory can be mind boggling, though.
As the team not left searching for answers after last night’s contest, however, the Predators are okay with a few “unanswerable” questions this morning.