The Nashville Predators took down the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night. Chicago put up a decent fight after losing 3-1 to the Preds the night before, but Nashville held its own and earned four out of four points on their trip to Chi-town.
This is the fifth consecutive win for the Predators, and their seventh in their past eight games. They’re now 18-17-1, and are in that fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
Yes, you read that correctly.
HERE’S THE RECAP
Chicago came out aggressive, controlling the first several minutes. Eventually, the Preds gained footing and started to create some good looks.
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Finally, Viktor Arvidsson scooped up a Chicago turnover behind their net, and his shot ricocheted off a Blackhawk’s skate to put Nashville up 1-0. This was a welcome sight for Arvidsson, as it was only his 2nd goal in his previous 12 games.
The Preds kept the pressure on, getting high-percentage looks through good defense and transitions. With just 1:30 left in the 1st period, Calle Jarnkrok scored on a turnaround pass from Ekholm which left goaltender Malcolm Subban befuddled. The Preds were up 2-0.
The 2nd period saw lots of back-and-forth pay, with both teams getting solid looks but finding themselves unable to get the puck the back of the net.
As the period wore on, the Preds turned up the defensive pressure, and Chicago was unable to get any sort of momentum. Dante Fabbro and Roman Josi both broke up multiple opportunities for the Blackhawks to hold them scoreless after 40 minutes.
After 7:35 minutes of play in the 3rd period, Blackhawk Alex DeBrincat scored when Pekka Rinne lost his stick seconds earlier. Less than two minutes later, Fabbro failed to stop DeBrincat as he scored again to tie the game.
The Predators had fallen flat and now had their backs against the wall as Chicago had gained momentum.
After many more minutes of disorganized and sloppy play, the Predators regained their composure on offense.
and Arvidsson put the defense in a spin cycle with some of the best passing I’ve seen from Nashville this year as Josi took advantage of a wide open look in front of the net. The Preds took back the lead at 3-2 thanks to the goal from their captain:
The Blackhawks pulled their goaltender with 1:20 left in the game, and though they got close to scoring right before the final horn, the Preds dug deep and help them off.
Rinne finished off a great night with several incredible saves.
LOOKING BACK, AND FORWARD
It is very hard to not be excited about the Predators right now. Their problems on special teams are improving rapidly. Defense and goaltending are both looking better with almost every game. Our young players are contributing. Our injured players are slowly getting healthy.
The Nashville Predators have quietly snuck into playoff contention. I can’t believe I just typed that., especially after the start they had this season.
As both a writer and a die-hard fan, I think I speak for most of us when I say that there were definitely some doom-and-gloom attitudes among the fanbase. Heck, go check out some of our previous articles about how we need to sell everyone and fire Hynes and whatnot.
It was very hard to see through the chaos that was the first half of the season. I admit, I struggled mightily as well. But recently, we’ve seen more consistency in line combinations, and the on-ice chemistry is obvious.
Are the Preds going to win the Stanley Cup this year? Honestly, probably not. Almost certainly not. I still think there may be several big-name moves ahead of the trade deadline.
But a few weeks ago, most of us were talking about the Preds as though they’d be heavy sellers to start a legit rebuild. Now? Heck, the Preds might start thinking about becoming buyers.
The Nashville Predators come home to take on the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, March 30th at 7:00 P.M. CST.