The Nashville Predators traveled to Chicago to battle the Blackhawks for the second time. In what was another great game, Nashville left with two points.
The Nashville Predators traveled back to the Windy City for their final time this season to face off against their central division rival. The Blackhawks played host for the second time in as many weeks. The last time Nashville was in the United Center, the Predators dropped a heartbreaker in overtime. This game would prove to be different, though. In a game that appeared very similar to their last meeting, Pekka Rinne stood tall and led Nashville to a victory.
Pekka! Pekka! Pekka!
We cannot divulge into what happened last night without starting with the main reason for Nashville’s win, and that reason is Pekka Rinne. I have gone on record saying that I think Rinne has been playing some of the best hockey of his career, and the numbers support my opinion. Coming into last night’s game Rinne had not allowed more than two goals in his past five starts. This includes the last time Nashville played Chicago. Going back to last night, Rinne continued this streak as he only surrendered one goal, a shorthanded goal from Artem Anisimov to close out the first period.
Other than that one blemish, Rinne was perfect on the night. He did a tremendous job controlling rebounds, and his positioning was spot on. On a night where Rinne faced 44 total shots and six opposing power plays, you really couldn’t have asked for a better performance. It will be interesting to see who will get the start against the Islanders. We all know Rinne has been playing unbelievably lately. However, he still needs rest, whether he wants it or not.
For most of this season so far, the Nashville Predators have had to rely on their first line for any scoring. If the JoFA line struggled to score, then the Nashville Predators struggled to score. It seemed as if last night’s game was headed in that direction, as well. That was until Calle Jarnkrok put one past Corey Crawford following a turnover from Duncan Keith. Jarnkrok got his first of the season and tied the game in the process. 10 minutes after Jarnkrok’s goal, Craig Smith got his second on the power play. Smith’s power play tally would ultimately wind up being the game-winner.
The Predators found that secondary scoring they so desperately needed last night. Now the question is will it continue? There is no definite answer, but if the Predators were able to score on Crawford, who has the 5th best save percentage in the league, then hopefully this will continue, and the entire lineup can start to get in on all the fun. Nashville will certainly have their opportunity later today, no matter who starts for the Islanders.
Girard here to Stay?
It is no secret that Nashville is missing Ryan Ellis at this point. Luckily for them they have a young prospect capable of filling that void. Samuel Girard is proving he’s capable. He rivals Roman Josi with his skating ability and is able to keep up with the likes of Mattias Ekholm on the defensive side of the puck. There is no doubt anymore, he deserves to be playing at the NHL level with the Nashville Predators. Poile needs to make a decision and needs to make it soon. Irwin, Weber, and Emelin just aren’t cutting as a bottom three defense corp anymore. Girard is ready, and we all know it.
My 3 stars of the game
3. Samuel Girard
Girard stepped onto the ice after not playing for a full week and performed admirably. He often played against the Toews line and didn’t surrender a goal. His offensive zone presence is what will keep him in the NHL as he never panics with the puck. I hope he stays past nine games,
2. Craig Smith
Smith was everywhere on the ice tonight and couldn’t be moved off the puck. He was always around the Blackhawks net-front looking for rebounds. He could’ve easily had more than one goal last night. Hopefully that energy continues.
1. Pekka Rinne
I mean it’s obvious. 43 saves on 44 shots is an almost herculean effort. The Nashville Predators would’ve lost had Rinne not been on his game tonight.
The Predators will be back in Smashville tonight to take on the New York Islanders. The Islanders are currently 5-4-1 on the season. They have two major scoring threats on offense, Josh Bailey and the obvious John Tavares. The goalies have been splitting duties, so far. Halak is 3-2-0 and Greiss is 2-2. Neither has been very spectacular and both sport a pretty fair save percentages.
Nashville might be playing their second game in two days, but this is definitely one they should win.