Last week, the Nashville Predators gave an uncharacteristically shallow performance in a 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks. This time, their effort was much stronger.
Unfortunately for them, the result wasn’t.
After a back-and-forth first period saw neither team chalk a tally, the Hawks struck first blood almost midway through the second. Dustin Byfuglien cleaned up the garbage after Nashville goalie Dan Ellis coughed up the tiniest of rebounds on a Patrick Kane shot.
Just over a minute later, Andrew Ladd did the same thing after jumping over Cam Barker’s point shot. Ellis left another rebound in front and the Hawks quickly had a 2-0 lead.
The deficit didn’t stop the Predators from trying to come back. They were putting shots on net from everywhere on the ice. Cristobal Huet turned them away each time, but the Predators were letting their presence be known at each frozen puck. It seemed like Patric Hornqvist and J.P. Dumont were standing in front of Huet every time he got a whistle.
In the third, the Hawks continued to put themselves in the penalty box taking three penalties in the final frame, two of which Byfuglien was guilty of. Fortunately for them, Nashville was just as generous by also taking three penalties.
Nashville kept the pressure on especially in the final ten minutes, but each time, Huet and the Hawks had an answer. The only drama at the end was whether Huet would hold on for the shutout. With two Predators in the penalty box, it was hard for them to sustain any pressure and Huet had his first shutout of the season.
–Brent Sopel played in 23 minutes. That is easily the most he’s played in two years. He also may have saved a goal in the second when a Huet rebound skied in the air. The puck very easily could have landed right in the crease where a stationary Hornqvist could have banged it in. Instead, Sopel batted the puck away with his hand and into the corner to avert the threat.
–The much maligned Hawks fourth line put together a respectable performance with some solid forechecking and pressure. I would venture to guess Jake Dowell will probably get to stick around a bit this time even when Toews returns. Not to take away anything they did tonight, but they were playing Nashville. The true tests will come when they play better teams.
–After having an incredibly unlucky start to his season combined with less than stellar play, it was good to see Cristobal Huet finally getting some fortuitous bounces around the crease.