The Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks met on Friday night in game two of their first round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Nashville getting the most of the opportunity to knot the series up at 1-1.
The Predators got off to nearly an identical start as they did in game one on Wednesday night as they found the back of the net first, and early. Colin Wilson scored his third goal of the post season to give the Predators the first lead of the game. Wilson received a pass Craig Smith from the side of the net and carried the puck on net and flipped the puck over the shoulder of Corey Crawford just 2:47 into the game. The goal came via the power play after Kris Versteeg was whistled for charging.
The middle half of the frame held a lot of back and forth play with the Predators controlling the puck a bit more with a handful more of scoring chances before the ‘Hawks found the back of the net. Patrick Sharp scored his second goal of the series with 3:47 left in the period to knot things up at one.
The scoring wasn’t done there in the first frame. Roman Josi scored his first of the series with 3.5 seconds left on the clock to give Nashville a 2-1 lead. Josi carried the puck for what felt like almost ten seconds before zipping a wrister past Crawford.
Nashville out shot Chicago 16-6 in the opening period of play.
The second period of play held a bit more back and forth play compared to the first period as neither team found the back of the net until after the midway point.
Paul Gaustad was called for a double-minor high stick penalty 3:30 into the period forcing Nashville into a massive penalty kill situation. The ‘Hawks managed just one shot while on the power play with the Predators’ PK killing the double-minor off in an impressive manner.
Nashville and Chicago battled before the ‘Hawks tallied to tie things up at two a piece via a Patrick Kane breakaway goal. It seemed as if Chicago had six men on the ice but the penalty was not called.
Shea Weber awkwardly was hit into the boards in the period as well and hobbled off the ice not putting much pressure on his right leg. It was soon thereafter announced that the captain would not return to the game with a lower-body injury.
The Predators answered the Kane goal with just over five minutes left in the frame with Craig Smith batting the puck home past Crawford for the 3-2 Nashville lead. Cody Franson and Mike Ribeiro were the helpers on the goal.
Seth Jones was called for a minor penalty with 5:06 left in the second period forcing the Predators to again kill off a penalty in a big time situation and that’s exactly what they did in yet again an impressive way.
Nashville was out shot in the middle frame 13-7 but held the overall advantage 23-19.
The third period was expected to be a doozy, and it lived up to the hype as both teams battled towards their preferable result in game two of the series.
Nashville got the first power play of the final frame as Jonathan Toews was went to the box for an interference call 5:13 into the period. Nashville managed just one shot on net and that one shot did not light the lamp.
The Predators may not have struck on that power play, but that struck soon there after, and more than once.
Filip Forsberg found the back of the net in poking the puck home past Crawford to give Nashville a 5-2 lead 12:41 into the period. Ribeiro shot the puck on net and Forsberg was there to put it home.
Smith then lit the lamp less than two minutes later courtesy of Forsberg putting the puck on his stick at center ice while on his knees. Smith sent the puck past Crawford’s blocker side for his second of the night. Pekka Rinne was credited with an assist.
Then, just 32 seconds later, Mike Santorelli who had never played in an NHL playoff game prior to tonight flipped the puck past Crawford in similar fashion to the Wilson goal early on in the first period of play. Calle Jarnkrok and Viktor Stalberg were credited with the assists as Nashville sat on a 6-2 lead with five minutes left in regulation.
The Predators ended the night out shooting the ‘Hawks 35-26. Rinne stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced.