Everyone knew this game would get off to an extremely quick start with an extremely fast pace and that is exactly what happened. It was certainly the fastest looking Nashville and Chicago have looked over the last week plus of the regular season and the opening two to three minutes set the tone for the rest of the night. The tone however was set by Nashville right off the bat.
The Blackhawks managed to control play for the first minute or so of the opening frame but after that the Predators completely controlled the play from there on until the end of the period.
Colin Wilson got the scoring going for Nashville in what was his first goal in 15 games. Wilson carried the puck the distance from the Nashville blue line before zipping a wicked wrister over the pad-shoulder of Corey Crawford. Wilson had a nice celebration as he yelled at the top of his lungs, along with the fans, as the Predators got off to their ideal start.
Seven minutes following the Wilson goal, the ex-Blackhawk Viktor Stalberg poked home a goal after Crawford and company misplayed the puck behind their own net. This was Stalberg’s first goal in six games and it had to feel good for the forward after bouncing back and forth between Nashville and Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. Roman Josi and Calle Jarnkrok were the helpers on the goal.
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The scoring wasn’t done there. The Predators pushed their lead to 3-0 with Seth Jones sending a slap shot on net that was tipped home by Wilson with just 27 seconds left in the frame. The goal came on while on the power play after Kimmon Timonen was called for holding. Jones and Ryan Ellis were both credited with assist on the goal.
The Predators out shot the ‘Hawks 12-6 in the opening period. Scott Darling, former Predator, took over the crease for Chicago to start the middle frame.
Chicago of course wouldn’t go away quietly with 40-minutes left to play as the second period got underway. Niklas Hjalmarsson sent a snap shot past Pekka Rinne less than two minutes into the middle frame to cut the Nashville lead to 3-1.
The Blackhawks continued to push the play in the second period and control just about every aspect of the game. After the Predators committed two penalties within a span of 1:05 the ‘Hawks managed to score on their 5-0n-3 advantage. Patrick Sharp scored via slapshot.
The push from Chicago continued, all the way to a tie hockey game.
Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews scored the team’s second power play goal of the period after Mattias Ekholm was called for cross-checking. Toews battled in front of the net before he poked home a puck past Rinne to knot things up at three goals a piece.
The middle frame ended with the game tied at 3-3 and the shots on goals in favor of Chicago by a count of 17-6.
Chicago continued to flex their muscle into the final frame seeing how the first Predators’ shot of the period didn’t come until 6:14 into the period.
Nashville got their first power play chance of the final period after Hjalmarsson was called for a slashing minor just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
Early on into the penalty Ryan Ellis had a prime scoring chance but Darling managed to commit robbery to keep the contest knotted at three.
The momentum equaled out from there on out in regulation with Nashville holding a few more scoring chances than Chicago despite their early burst.
The Predators and Blackhawks each had a power play in the final frame and the Predators managed to out shoot the ‘Hawks 13-10 in the final frame.
Both teams swapped chances in a major way for the opening 10 minutes of the extra frame with Nashville holidng the majority of the prime scoring chances but neither club found the back of the net in the opening half of the overtime.
The Predators received their first power play chance with 7:18 left in overtime following a Brad Richards high-sticking minor penalty.
The Predators managed two quality scoring chances while on the power play but they didn’t manage to end the game with Chicago killing off the penalty. Taylor Beck was later taken down on the partial breakaway with 4:30 left in the extra period but there was no call.
The ‘Hawks were awarded a power play opportunity with 2:25 left in the first extra period after Seth Jones was called for a tripping minor. Chicago didn’t find the back of the net in the closing minutes of the extra period and the game headed into the second overtime period.
Nashville out shot Chicago 17-9 in the first overtime.
The second overtime period held the same back and forth hockey but eventually one player, Duncan Keith, ended the night. The Blackhawks won game one 4-3 in overtime.
Nashville out shot Chicago 54-42 on the night. Darling stopped all 42 of the shots he faced.