Kevin Klein as the first star? Predators playing with only 5 defensemen? Standing Room Only tickets sold for the game? All of these things happened tonight as Nashville score 3 unanswered goals in the second period to put away the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in front of a raucous crowd in the Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators have now won 2 in a row and 8 of their past 10, grabbing 16 of a possible 20 points so far in January.
As I noted earlier, I imagined it was going to be around 60/40 tonight in favor of Blackhawks fans, as the red in the crowd was extremely dominant early. Many of my followers fairly pointed out that it was most likely going to be the other way around. It was probably a little more yellow than red, however that just goes to show you the large number of Hawks fans in Nashville tonight.
Nashville had a couple of brief lapses in defense tonight, however they otherwise played a near-perfect game against one of the best teams in the NHL. Now, this game could have been a MUCH DIFFERENT story, though, if Chicago wouldn’t have hit so many posts throughout the contest. The Blackhawks rang 3 shots off the post this evening, which would have been enough to tie the game if those would have gone the other way and into the net instead of out.
The Predators took advantage of an extremely fluky goal early in the second period and played one of the most dominant 20 minutes of hockey they’ve played all season to finish the second with a 4-1 lead. Although they would give up a goal in the first minute of the third period, the Predators grabbed their 3-goal lead back less than 3 minutes later and held onto that for the remainder of the game to collect two extremely important points in the uber-competitive Central Divison.
With that win against Chicago, Nashville is now 9-2-2 against Central Division opponents. That record is the best record against the Central Division among all the teams in the NHL. Nashville’s losses have come twice to Detroit, once to Chicago in OT, and once to Columbus in OT.
Finishing up with two more games before the all-star break, the Predators will face Columbus and Chicago again on Monday in Nashville and Tuesday in Chicago before a 7-day break and facing Minnesota on January 31st.
Powerplay – 1 for 2, 50%
Penalty Kill – 1 for 1, 100%
Best Play of the Game: Sergei Kostitsyn takes a Mike Fisher feed, dekes Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford down to the ice, and posts it to the far side of the net to give the Predators a 4-1 lead at 16:03 of the second period
Worst Play of the Game: Turning around on a transition play, Marian Hossa bursts and dekes past Shea Weber to beat Pekka Rinne and give the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 15:05 of the first period
My Three Stars:
#1: – Kevin Klein – 1g, 1a, +1 on the night. One of the best games I’ve ever seen Klein play. Sound defensive play all night and showing his rare offensive prowess
#2: – Marian Hossa – 2g, 0a, +1 on the night. I don’t know what it is, but Marian Hossa has Nashville’s number. 2 more goals against the Preds tonight for Hossa
#3: – Sergei Kostitsyn – 1g, 1a, +1 on the night. As the season goes along, SK seems to just get better, kind of like a fine wine. Great night and a much needed offensive input from Kostitsyn
Check back daily for news, updates and pre- and post-game information from The Predatorial.