The post-season train is about to board and Nashville is falling further and further to the back of the pack, with Chicago claiming their ticket and jumping aboard with tonight’s win over the Predators 5-3. As stated in a previous post, the lockout was more than helpful for the Chicago Blackhawks, as they started out the season undefeated through 24 games. Though they have since lost, their record against Nashville thus far remains 4-0.
Don’t laugh off the Predators just yet, though. They fell to the Blackhawks 3-0 in their first meeting, but Nashville has kept the games close against the leader of the NHL. But close doesn’t cut it when the playoffs are on the line and, though they fought a good fight, quality doesn’t always produce quantity when it comes down to it.
Here are the highlights from tonight’s game at the United Center:
BEFORE THE GAME:
- Though he played in yesterday’s game, Mike Fisher was pulled from the lineup for safety reasons and an emergency recall from Milwaukee was made. Insert, Austin Watson: Nashville’s first round pick from the 2010 NHL Draft. As Milwaukee’s leading scorer, it was more of a “when is he coming” situation for the Predators.
- Andrew Shaw drew blood first with a slap shot past Pekka Rinne at 6:34 into the game, his 8th goal of the season.
- Nashville would kill any chance of a shutout for Chicago at 17:16 with a wrister from Nick Spaling, his 7th goal of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn would pick up his 11th assist of the season.
- Similar to the first period, Chicago would start out with a goal first, this time from Bryan Bickell, his 8th of the season.
- The Predators would respond at 5:54 with a clean slap shot from Shea Weber, his 8th goal of the season. Nick Spaling would pick up the assist on Weber’s goal, his 4th of the season.
- David Legwand would give Nashville its only lead of the night at 6:54 for his 11th goal of the season. Matt Halischuk (5th) and Shea Weber (15th) would nab the assists on Leggy’s goal. Legwand is now just one goal away from his 200th NHL career goal.
- Chicago would both tie and take the lead within 55 seconds of each goal, the first one nailed by Brandon Saad and the second collected by Jonathan Toews.
- With the clock winding down, Patrick Kane collects his 20th goal of the season with an empty netter, sealing the game 5-3 in favor of the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks only needed one point to punch their ticket into the playoffs, but with their win in regulation, Nashville may have unwillingly handed Chicago their possible ticket, too.
The Predators have made the playoffs every year since 2003, spoiling Predators fans who weren’t aware of the franchise before that year. Do fans know how to handle an early off season filled with golf while watching other teams claw for the Cup?
The Predators pack up and head home to welcome the St. Louis Blues to the Bridgestone on Tuesday night. The Predators are just five points behind Detroit for 8th position and just six from St. Louis who sits in 7th. Two things need to happen to help the Predators: everyone else to lose and Nashville to actually win.