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Predators lose special teams war against Chicago


Dec 18, 2013


Chicago scored twice on the power play and added an even strength goal as the Nashville Predators fell 3-1 to the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night.

The Predators gave the NHL’s third best power play five opportunities to score on Tuesday night and they scored twice.

After Duncan Keith opened scoring just 89 seconds into the game, Nashville’s Shea Weber answered back to tie the score at one at 3:03 of the first.

For a brief while, the tide seemed to be flowing in the Predators’ direction…then Patrick Kane happened.

Predators forward Colin Wilson went to the box at 15:36 in the first period for holding. Less than a minute later, Kane delivered a highlight reel backhand goal past Carter Hutton to give Chicago the lead for the final time.

“They are talented on the power play and they capitalized on their chances,” Wilson said.

Chicago attacked again in the second period after a Viktor Stalberg tripping penalty, as Nick Leddy shot the puck over Hutton’s left shoulder to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead.

“What makes them so tough to stop is that they are so talented that you can’t scout out exactly what they are going to do,” Wilson said. “They are very read-and-react and did a great job making plays.”

The Predators committed a total of five penalties, resulting in five power plays for the Blackhawks. Chicago, meanwhile, put Nashville on the power play an astounding seven times, but the Predators were only able to convert once.

“At the end of the day we ended up losing the special teams war,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought we had a really good first period, maybe one of our best first periods all year, and we’re down 2-1, It’s ironic how it is. But they’re a high executing team.”

In their five power play opportunities, the Blackhawks only put seven shots on goal, while the Predators put 14 shots on goal during their opportunities. However, the Blackhawks outscored Nashville 2-1 on the man advantage.

“They didn’t get a whole lot of chances, but they executed,” Trotz said.

Nashville had their power play chances. The Predators were unable to convert on a roughly three-and-a-half minute power play for a Patrick Sharp high-sticking double-minor in the second and were unable to generate any offense at the end of the game on the power play with the extra attacker. After the early score by Weber, the Predators had six straight scoreless power play attempts.

“They played really well on the power play and have really high execution players who are on the power play unit,” Predators forward Patric Hornqvist said. “That’s where they scored two goals. We have to get better on our power play, there’s no question about it. We need to score goals and help the team.”

In the second period, Nashville committed four of their five penalties including not one, but two too many men on the ice penalties. Even though the Blackhawks only scored on one of the four penalties during the period, the fact that Nashville was unable to maintain even strength affected the team’s ability to adjust to the game.

“It was tough, especially when we were trying to get a flow, roll out our lines and get a feel,” Predators forward Mike Fisher said. “We can’t be doing that, especially against their power play. It’s hard to get momentum when we’re killing [penalties].”

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua