The Nashville Predators took a road game mentality into their final home game of the season and emerged with a wild 7-5 win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
The last time in Bridgestone Arena for the 2013-2014 campaign looked and felt much like an away contest for Nashville as thousands of raucous Blackhawks fans saw their squad come up short in the game’s final minutes.
Energized by perhaps the most support they’ve had in an away game all season, the Blackhawks came out flying in the first period and put two pucks past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.
The Predators weren’t completely void of resiliency though. Nashville tied the time early in the third before a wild final 10 minutes saw the Predators Paul Gaustad ultimately put in the game winner with under three minutes remaining in the contest.
“Yeah we knew there was going to be a lot of Blackhawks fans here, it’s something we talked about before the game. It was really nice to send them home disappointed,” Predators forward Matt Cullen said with a smile.
Concluding their season series with a 4-1 record against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Predators used a “road game” mentality to take down the Blackhawks one last time.
“We’ve been pretty good on the road, so I didn’t mind all their fans too much. I went for lunch today and all I saw was red all over, I even saw a Blackhawks flag at one point. I thought that would give us some great motivation to let them come downtown and go home sad. That was my goal,” Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said.
Five third period goals for Nashville worked to quiet a contingent of Blackhawks faithful that had been pleased with their team’s play for the majority of the contest.
“We took their fans out of the game when it mattered,” Nashville winger Eric Nystrom said. “That was a fun one for our fans, probably not as much for the coaches or even as a player, but that was a great last home game.”
Two straight goals for Nashville tied the contest at two in the second frame before Blackhawks winger Matt Carey‘s first NHL goal helped give Chicago the lead after 40 minutes.
The Predators went to the locker room with chants of “Let’s go Hawks” ringing in their ears and a scoreboard that favored Chicago 3-2 to boot.
But three Nashville goals across the final three minutes of regulation gave the Predators their fourth win of the season when trailing after two periods. For the second time this campaign, the Predators scored seven goals in a single game against the Blackhawks and they needed just about all of them tonight.
“Who knows how we even did that?” Cullen said. “It’s just one of things, sometimes you get all the bounces against one team and it’s one of those funny things of the game. Against certain teams it just seems to go your way and the puck finds its way in for you. I guess that’s the Blackhawks for us.”
It’s on to an actual road game for the Predators where the club will take on the Minnesota Wild to conclude their 2013-2014 season.
“We just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing. We’ve played some really good hockey down the stretch,” Cullen said. “Unfortunately it’s too little, too late as far as the playoffs are concerned. But we’re proud of the way we’ve played recently and we’ve taken some big strides with our young group. So it would be nice to end on a good note in Minnesota.”