The Nashville Predators had their best road showing of the young 2017-18 season. It wasn’t enough to send the Chicago Blackhawks home as losers.
The Nashville Predators were in Chicago Saturday evening to take on their arch-rivals. The Chicago Blackhawks haven’t forgotten what happened in the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Four games was all it took the Predators to see the Blackhawks off. Chicago was looking for revenge. Nashville was looking to continue their ownership of the Windy City.
I had a feeling it was going to be a good ol’ fashioned barn-burner
The Blackhawks have been extremely strong in the first period this season, outscoring their opponents 11-1 in their first four games. A miscommunication between Filip Forsberg & Ryan Johansen less than three minutes into the game led to Johansen hooking his way to the penalty box. Nashville’s penalty kill was on point and the closest call was Viktor Arvidsson almost getting a short-handed goal.
The Nashville Predators got a power play of their own due to Ryan Hartman tripping halfway through the period. The Predators couldn’t take advantage and Nick Bonino ends up in the box with 5:00 left after knocking the puck out of play. That powerplay doesn’t last long though, as Jonathan Toews interferes with Colton Sissons to make it four on four. Richard Panik has a nice breakaway but Pekka Rinne sees it all the way and closes the door.
The momentum’s turned and Rinne makes some big saves to keep it scoreless. Nashville played their best first period of the season thus far and it’s 0-0. Hey, with the way Chicago’s been playing in first periods so far, I guess we’ll take it.
Mattias Ekholm telling Lyndsay Rowley they need to step it up for the second period makes me feel good going into the second period.
You almost wonder sometimes if the ice is tilted towards one end of the arena. The Blackhawks dominated early in this period. Anthony Bitetto cleans Alex DeBrincat‘s clock in the corner and that gets a penalty. The announcers tried hard to undersell it, but Bitetto earned his time in the box. No harm, no foul. Things getting a little chippy! The Predators then lose Ryan Johansen for two minutes.
Ryan Johansen needs to do a better job of staying out of the box. No one cares when Cody McLeod takes a penalty because that’s almost his job. But Johansen is too valuable to take himself off the ice for two or more minutes. That needs to change sooner rather than later.
Chicago doesn’t get anything there, but their offense presses the matter midway through the period. The Blackhawks have come pretty close to having too many men on the ice a couple of times but the referees haven’t called it. Alexei Emelin and Matt Irwin have been shot blocking machines through the first half of the game.
A trip on Forsberg sends young Jan Rutta to the box with just over two minutes left in the period. The Nashville Predators waste no time cashing in, as Forsberg puts the puck in the net twenty seconds later with help from P.K. Subban & Scott Hartnell.
Those good feelings don’t last long before Austin Watson goes to the box for holding. Arvidsson had a chance short-handed again but is denied by Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks’ power play has twenty seconds left as the second period ends. We’ve seen the Predators give up goals early in periods before. Hopefully, they can avoid it this time.
The Predators kill the power play, and Brent Seabrook interferes with Arvidsson to give the Predators one. Nashville gets nothing going there. Nick Bonino still nowhere to be seen on the bench, which could be problematic. A hold by Mikko Salomaki gives the Blackhawks another power play. You just can’t give Chicago this many opportunities. So far, the Predators have survived. Chicago makes another push after the PP & Pekka fights off some risky business. More risky business follows and another penalty on Johansen is called. This time on a slash. Pekka’s getting a lot of work in tonight. They kill off the power play, and then Johansen and Forsberg nearly combine for a goal on the other end.
It’s nail-biting time with less than eight minutes left. Every play is huge with the Predators hanging on to a one-goal lead. Forsberg loses his stick and he’s running around checking people! A clearing attempt by the Predators hits a referee, Matt Irwin loses his stick to Hartman & Patrick Sharp pots a goal. The Predators are irate, but nothing can be done about it with 5:36 left.
An Irwin turnover nearly leads to another goal but Rinne shakes it off as he gloves a Brandon Saad shot. Blackhawks dominate the face-off circle late as they continue to press on. Nothing else is added though. The Nashville Predators escape the United Center with at least one point.
These three on three overtime periods rarely go well for Nashville. Blackhawks press early and get a golden opportunity but come up short. You wonder if the Predators ever practice these situations, as they always look like fish out of water this time of the evening. Patrick Kane versus Girard doesn’t seem fair, but the youngster holds him off. Later, Kane dishes to Saad down low and that’s the overtime winner for Chicago. Thanks to some sloppy defense by a tired group.
A night mostly dominated by the Nashville Predators ends in a 2-1 overtime loss thanks to some of the Chicago Blackhawks’ old timers. Certainly, it was a solid showing by Nashville, but not worth two points. Nick Bonino’s status is something we’ll be keeping a close eye on in the days ahead.
Steve’s Three Stars
Third Star: Brandon Saad
I would much rather put Forsberg or Subban in this spot because they each had stellar outings. I can’t because Saad got the game-winning goal. He’s got six goals on the season. Saad looks extremely happy to play alongside old friends Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Second Star: Pekka Rinne
Rinne was oh so close to making it three straight shutouts in the Windy City. After a tough first week, he’s been on his A game the last two outings. It’s obviously early in the season, but he doesn’t look like he’s giving up his first-string status anytime soon.
First Star: Corey Crawford
When a goalie gets 37 saves on 38 shots, all you can do is tip your cap to him & say “Well done.” Crawford was everything the Blackhawks needed him to be tonight.
The Nashville Predators return home on Tuesday night to take on another Central Division rival. The red-hot Colorado Avalanche roll into town looking to reclaim that winning feeling after a loss in Dallas Saturday night.
Matt Duchene & company will visit with the Predators Tuesday night at 7:00 CT/8:00 ET.