(Photo: Fred Murtz YouTube)
The Nashville Predators weren’t leaving home without a win–and they sent the Blackhawks packing with a 6-2 lashing Friday.
Much like Wednesday’s game, the Predators came out hot and the Hawks seemed promising in the middle. Unlike Game 1, the Predators pummeled pucks on net for a powerful third–giving the Hawks no chance for a comeback.
So, what happened and how do they recover?
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp was a man on a mission Friday night.
With just under five minutes left in the game, Sharp tied the game on a delayed penalty with puck perseverance of his own. He stuck around the net after a failed scoring attempt and was there for a delivery from Niklas Hjalmarsson and Andrew Shaw.
Sharp’s twist, flick, and shout move sent the puck past Pekka Rinne for a 1-1 score.
The music city’s team wouldn’t be quieted, though. They answered with just seconds left in the first.
Shea Weber set up Roman Josi for a top-shelf wrister from the right face-off circle and gave the Predators a serious advantage heading into intermission.
“It’s tough,” Brent Seabrook told media Saturday. “Going in after the first period, you’re looking like you’ll get out of it with a 1-1 tie. Giving up that late goal is tough but all those things, you want to be out there in the last minutes of periods, for the starts of periods, for goals and goals against. But those are areas we have to be better in.”
Nashville outshot Chicago 16-6 in the first.
About halfway through the second period–which possession-wise seemed to be dominated by the Blackhawks–Chicago knotted the score once again.
Patrick Kane rushed into the zone with a feed from Seabrook and sniped a wrister from the left circle past Rinne’s glove.
But even the 14-7 shot advantage this period wouldn’t save them.
A few minutes later, Smith would give the Predators yet another go-ahead goal with a rebound from Cody Franson and Ribeiro.
The third period featured four Chicago penalties and a 12-6 Nashville shot advantage. But, above all else, it featured three unanswered Predator goals.
Filip Forsberg scored first, unassisted, to give the Preds a 4-2 lead with 7:39 left in the game by stuffing the puck point-blank into the net.
Then, less than two minutes later, and prompting a crowd of yellow to chant “Crawford, you suck,” the Predators scored two more.
Rinne would play the puck up to Forsberg, leading to a two-on-one with Smith–and a top-shelf wrister from the right circle.
And the cherry on top of Game Two would come 32 seconds later.
After a delivery from Calle Jarnkrok and Viktor Stalberg, Mike Santorelli would skate straight to the net for a close range shot over Crawford’s shoulder.
The Blackhawks were already defeated for the last five minutes of the game, or at least they played like it.
“It was a tough feeling waking up (Saturday) morning,” Sharp said.
The Blackhawks have serious changes to make to shift power back in their favor–and the place to do it is back home. They have the advantage of the crowd behind them.
— NHL (@NHL) April 16, 2015
“We threw him to the wolves the other day in Game 1 and what a tremendous response we got. So I don’t think [this] is any different,” Quenneville said. “Get in there, do your thing, do what you’ve done all year. Be comfortable and confident.”But the guys in front of the net need to change, too, if they plan to blow anyone away in the Windy City. Other likely roster additions include centers Antoine Vermette and possibly Andrew Desjardins.
Surprisingly, no changes for defense are expected. Michal Rozsival is a minus-three for the first two games.
Regardless of who is on the ice, the team will need to play with much more discipline at home. They had 22 penalty minutes to the Predators’ 10 in Game 2 and led 25-19 in hits. Chicago’s strength comes not in physicality but in puck movement.
As for the Predators, Weber left Friday’s game after an apparent lower body injury in the second period and did not return.
“You never want to lose your captain during a game–one of our best players,” Wilson said. “I think the guys did a good job of getting it done without him.”
The Predators announced Saturday that Weber would not be making the trip to Chicago and further updates on his condition will be announced Wednesday.
Mike Fisher, who left game one early after just returning from injury (lower body), is considered day-to-day.
The teams face off at 2:20 p.m. CT at the United Center, broadcast on NBC, RSN, and TVA2.