Predators smash Blackhawks 6-1

Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Sergei Kostitsyn celebrate with Mike Fisher.

The Predators ended last night’s game with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, but they had no time to celebrate. When most teams have a hard time playing two nights in a row, Nashville came out in Chicago looking like a brand new team, refreshed and hungry for a win.

The Blackhawks are currently sitting behind Nashville in both the conference and division, only behind by two points. While the Predators have been struggling the last few games, Chicago has been shinning, winning the last five of their games. Sitting that close to pushing forward in both the conference and division, the Blackhawks needed to extend their winning streak to six.

However, the Blackhawks have certainly struggled against the Predators all season, with the Blackhawks only beating the Predators 5-4 on October 31st in OT. Also, with Jonathan Toews out with an injury and Duncan Keith out for a five-game suspension (due to elbowing Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin intentionally in the face, ending his season), the Blackhawks would have to put forth a good effort tonight against the Nashville Predators. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Windy City:
KEY POINTS:

  • Jordin Tootoo returned to the lineup after being scratched last night against the Winnipeg Jets in Nashville, but Colin Wilson and Roman Josi are still suffering from their injuries. Also suffering from an unexpected injury is Martin Erat, who made the trip with the team to Chicago, but is said to be suffering from an upper-body injury. Andrei Kostitsyn replaced Marty in the all-powerful SK74-Fisher-Erat line. Adding to the scratched list was Craig Smith, Jack Hillen, and Brian McGrattan.
  • Both teams put the pressure on early, but it was Nashville’s defense that stole the show. Pekka Rinne was up to his old tricks, making some key saves early on in the game. Chicago took to shooting early, taking eleven shots in the first period alone.
  • Jordin Tootoo had his butt handed to him at 4:56 in the first period after dropping the gloves with Bradon Bollig. Instead of hitting the penalty box for five minutes, Toots headed straight for the locker room. It was clear Jordin’s ear was bleeding, but reports claim he has suffered from an upper-body injury due to the fight. When he did not return to the game, it was clear that he indeed was injured more than just a cut on the ear. He is iffy for Tuesday’s game in St. Louis. Here is the video of the beat down on Toots:
  • Matt Halischuk redeemed Nashville after Tootoo’s beat down at 6:16 with a wrist shot past Corey Crawford for his 14th goal of the season. Brandon Yip (3rd assist) and Paul Gaustad (14th assist) picked up the assists on Halischuk’s goal.
  • Nashville would continue to dominate the 1st Period with a wrist shot from Andrei Kostitsyn at 15:28. David Legwand (31st assist) and Patric Hornqvist (15th assist) picked up the assists from Andrei’s 16th goal of the season.
  • The only goal in the 2nd Period would come from reining goal scorer, Patric Hornqvist at 5:42 on the power play. First awarded to Alexander Radulov, Hornqvist would enviably be given credit for the goal, his 25th of the season. Radulov (2nd assist) and Shea Weber (30th assist) would be given the assists.
  • Continuing to keep the ball rolling, Francis Bouillon would sink his 2nd goal of the season just two minutes into the 3rd Period. Rookie Ryan Ellis (8th assist) and Matt Halischuk (12th assist) would grab the assists early in the 3rd Period.
  • Viktor Stalberg would finally give the Blackhawks breathing room at 5:58, his 19th goal of the season.
  • Shea Weber would quiet the Chicago crowd at 6:34 with an amazing slap shot past Ray Emery, sealing his 16th goal of the season. Cleanly winning the puck at the face-off, Mike Fisher picked up the assist (25th) for Weber’s goal.
  • After grabbing the assist, Mike Fisher would seal his own goal of the night at 17:33 with a snap shot past Ray Emery for his 24th goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (11th assist) and Pekka Rinne (4th assist) picked up the assists.
  • Chicago only out-shot the Predators 25 to 24, but it was clear who had the better accuracy with the shots and who was the better goal tender (or, for Chicago, goal tenders). The Predators gave the Blackhawks five power play chances, yet the defense and Pekka Rinne were able to keep Chicago at bay. Chicago only gave Nashville three power play chances, but Nashville was able to capitalize Sean O’Donnell’s hi-sticking penalty. Here are the five penalty box sitters for the Predators:
  1.  Jordin Tootoo – 4:56 1st Period – Fighting
  2. Sergei Kostitsyn – 10:36 1st Period – Tripping
  3. Brandon Yip – 16:32 1st Period – Boarding
  4. Shea Weber – 13:34 2nd Period – Interference
  5. Patric Hornqvist – 3:57 3rd Period – Slashing

The team that showed up in Chicago tonight is clearly a team that contend for the Stanley Cup. What changed them from the team from last week? Well, there’s no telling, but the momentum that the Predators conveyed tonight should be in hand during the playoffs and the remainder for the regular season.

The Predators will travel south of Chicago to St. Louis to face the Blues on Tuesday, the puck dropping at 7PM. If the Predators can take on the Blues as they did tonight against Chicago, Nashville could push themselves further in the rankings. After tonight’s win, however, they did surpass the Detroit Red Wings once again for 4th in the conference.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

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