Austin Watson’s NHL Debut marred by Preds 4th loss to Chicago

Source: Zimbio.com

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.

FIRST PERIOD:

  • 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.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • 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.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • 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.

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)

Preds break Chicago’s Heart with Win 3-2

Jordin Tootoo shows Nashville his love after the game on Tuesday.

The Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t exactly sweethearts, so for the two division rivals to come together on Valentine’s Day meant someone would be leaving the Bridgestone Arena with a broken heart. Both teams were coming into this game with a few losses under their belts, the Predators with three straight losses, the Blackhawks with an outrageous eight straight losses. Needless to say for the Blackhawks, a win in the Music City would be essential for their run for the playoffs, but the Predators don’t give up home games easily…
Here are the highlights from Tuesday’s game:

KEY POINTS

  • Jack Hillen and Brian McGrattan found no love on Tuesday night, with both players being scratched for the game. Patric Hornqvist was also scratched due to an upper-body injury.
  • Both teams came out strong in the first, putting pressure on both goalies. Ryan Suter got the ball rolling late in the 1st period with a snap shot at 18:20, his seventh goal of the season. He was assisted by Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher.
  • Chicago didn’t give the Predators a chance to celebrate though as Bryan Bickell sent a wrist shot passed Pekka Rinne, his sixth goal of the season. The Predators and Blackhawks ended the first period tied 1-1.
  • The 2nd period was relatively quietly until late at 17:21 with a tip-in from Nick Spaling, his eight goal of the season. He was assisted by Ryan Ellis and Jordin Tootoo.
  • Marian Hossa made sure to make the Predators sweat in the third period, with a wrist shot at 6:05, his 21st goal of the season.
  • Rookie Ryan Ellis silenced the Blackhawks at 14:18 with a slap shot passed Ray Emery, his third goal of the season. He was assisted by veteran David Legwand.
  • Pekka was on his A-Game once again, blocking 30 of 32 shots on goal. No power play goals were allowed during this game, but both the Predators and the Blackhawks gave each other plenty of opportunities. Here are the three culprits on the penalty box:
  1.  Mike Fisher – 3:51 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Martin Erat – 9:03 1st Period – Holding
  3. Roman Josi – 13:50 2nd Period – Tripping

 

The Predators end their three-game losing streak with the 3-2 win over the Blackhawks, extending Chicago’s losing streak to nine. The Predators will take two days off and head North to the Motor City to take on another Western Conference foe, the Detroit Red Wings on Friday at 6:30PM.

Until then,
GO PREDS.