Well, it was another snooze-fest between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks. Yep, just a forgettable, unassuming, humdrum of a hockey game between the top two teams in the Central Division. The Predators jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Hawks scored three times in 7 minutes during the 2nd period to tie it up. After a James Neal power-play goal to take a 4-3 lead late in the 2nd, Bryan Bickell tied it up again for the Hawks with a little over a minute to play in the game. After a frantic OT period, the Blackhawks win the shootout and take this one 5-4.
Roman Josi, Craig Smith, and James Neal (twice) scored for the Predators, while the Blackhawks got goals from Brad Richards, Andrew Shaw, Marian Hossa, and Bryan Bickell.
Before we go to the random observations, consider this about tonight's game:
- This is the third time either the Preds or Hawks will face each other with one team playing on back-to-back nights.
- Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford will face each other for the first time this year.
- This is the final meeting in the regular season between the Preds and Hawks.
- Early on, both defenses are doing well to deny any quality offensive chances. These teams are #1 and #2 in goals allowed, so that's to be expected.
- And with that, Josi gets the Preds on the board! As the penalty kill expired, he snuck up into neutral ice and had a wide open lane down the right side. Smooth wrist shot gets by Crawford and the good guys lead 1-0.
- What? You haven't up-voted Josi on our December player rankings page? Oh. Go do that.
- While you're there, vote for Craig Smith who just scored! And for Colin Wilson whose initial work in front led to the goal. (Disclaimer: down-voting anyone on this Preds team will be challenging.)
- Can't keep taking penalties, fellas. Taylor Beck gets the 2nd period started on the wrong foot. But the Preds promptly kill the penalty and then Mike Ribeiro's offensive pressure gets a hooking call on the Hawks.
- And now James Neal scores! What a strange goal... Rinne got the play started with a long pass along the boards, Colin Wilson threw a sharp angle shot on net and James Neal shoveled home the rebound as he was falling down. Pekka gets his first point of the year! It's 3-0.
- Blackhawks get on the board just after the Preds had killed off a penalty. Brad Richards slots one by Rinne and it's now a 3-1 lead. No fooling around tonight... we will need more goals.
- That didn't take long. Hawks on the board again as Andrew Shaw was able to squeeze the puck between Rinne's blocker and the post. 3-2 Preds lead. Guys... more goals will be needed.
- Just STOP with the penalties. Ekholm in the box for holding with Josi already in for roughing.
- Marian Hossa scores on the 4-on-3 power-play. Tie game. Preds need this 2nd period to be over.
- Ka-boomo! James Neal with a rebound power-play goal! That salvages what has been a pretty terrible 2nd period.
- I've done my share of defending Olli Jokinen thus far this year, but right now he seems as useless as a straw in a shot glass.
- Gabriel Bourque having a game. Chasing down loose pucks, stealing pucks in the corner, playing physical along the boards. May not get a point, but he is making the best of his minutes out there.
- Eric Nystrom just sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the locker room on a big, beautiful, legal hit.
- Of course, Bryan "Don't Call Me Travis" Bickell ties it up. Good grief.
- How to put into words that 4-on-4 OT period? Heart-stopping.
- Shootout: Ellis stopped, Toews scores, Smith stopped, Kane stopped, Forsberg misses the net. Game over, Hawks win the shootout and get the extra point.
OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game
- James Neal: 2 goals, which gives Neal approximately 43 goals against the Hawks this year.
- Colin Wilson: 2 assists, both of which were earned through some tough work in traffic. Willy making a case for "Best Pred Of The First Half Of The Season Not Named Pekka Rinne"
- (speaking of) Pekka Rinne: 38 saves, 1 assist, 1 puppy (see below)
Tweets Of The Game
.@FSTennessee you boys OK up there? Stray bullets hitting the truck?— Dan D Bradley (@DanDBradley) December 30, 2014
(ICYMI, there were rampant video problems during the first 3-4 minutes of the game)
Pekka Rinne does it all. Saves….Assists….Puppies… pic.twitter.com/LZHctxc3n3— Smashvillian (@Smashvillian_) December 30, 2014
this game really does have everything RT @RStanley247: Eric Nystrom just won a faceoff— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) December 30, 2014
Roll the video highlights...