The Predators looked to get the series advantage in Chicago this afternoon, and they had to do it without Captain Weber and Mr. Underwood in the lineup.
After what looked like some early jitters by the Predators, the Blackhawks got on the board first as Andrew Desjardins netted his first goal as a Blackhawk since coming over from the Sharks. Josi blocked the initial shot, but it came back to Desjardins and beat Rinne's five-hole. But the Preds would answer only 31 seconds later, as Mike Ribeiro ripped one glove side by Scott Darling. FINALLY. A SHOT SENT BY DARLING AND INTO THE NET. At the end of the 1st, the game score mirrors the series score: even at 1.
Oh the 2nd period woes, how they continue. Hawks tally only 36 seconds into the period, as Jonathan Toews ripped one by Rinne, who was screened. And even though the Predatrors tied it back up only 22 seconds later by Mattias Ekholm, Brandon Saad broke down the left side and slotted one by Rinne high stick side. So far it looks like Rinne has some Corey Crawford-like holes. Then he gives up another through the five-hole as Brent Seabrook slaps one through to make it 4-2, after a long stretch of offensive play by the Haws. If Pekka doesn't close those holdes we won't have any chance in this game.
Things tapered off in the 3rd period. The Preds didn't manage many chances as the Blackhawks defense tightened up and Darling managed to control any rebounds, denying any 2nd chance opportunities. The Hawks kept the pressure in the Predators defensive zone and the Preds offense had no chances to speak of.
This effort wasn't what we saw in Game 2. I'm not sure what we saw today actually, but do not underestimate the absence of Weber and Fisher. Game 4 will be Tuesday night.
Highlights of the Game:
GIF another look at Ekholm goal pic.twitter.com/P7CpmNvmJS— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 19, 2015
Mike Ribeiro with a little bench love to Chicago pic.twitter.com/muqHwMNxqo— Mark Carson Harris (@MCHisTweeting) April 19, 2015
GIF here's the close up/replay of Ribeiro throwing a punch at Shaw's face because Shaw was holding his arm pic.twitter.com/0ktGl6cF5t— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 19, 2015
- Former Predator Kimmo Timonen giving back to the Preds in his own way. Stupid hold on Beck gave the Preds the early PP chance.
- Pekka tested early on a shorthanded chance by Hossa. Rinne closed down the angle, no rebound. This would be one of his better saves of the game.
- #FransonWatch: just sort of stood there in the defensive zone while the Blackhawks gathered the puck and ripped a shot on Rinne, followed by an 90 foot cross-ice tape-to-tape pass up the wing that lead to a scoring chance by Craig Smith. I am as baffled at Franson as any hockey player I've ever seen.
- So far, Marian Hossa is the most threatening attacker for the Hawks, which is not a good sign for the Preds.
- The Desjardins goal was unfortunate. Josi, as he has done all year, did a great job blocking the initial shot. But the puck came right back to Desjardins. With the defense and Rinne slightly off balance from the initial shot, he was able to find some room and send it through Rinne's legs. Blackhawks with the early lead, until...
- MCRIBS! What a rip. Finally, we scored on Darling. Perhaps glove side is the weakness. He made so many stops with the pads in Game 1, you have to think going high (glove side, stick side, any side) in this game is an objective.
- End of the first, shots are Hawks 14, Preds 11. Game is tied, but the Hawks played a smidge better in that period. Good thing the Preds usually save their best for the 2nd Period. Oh wait.
- Yeah, there's the 2nd Period we all know about. Hawks take a 2-1 lead on a goal by Toews, who beat a screened Rinne.
- What did we say about going HIGH on Darling? Ekholm rips one stick side from the blue-line only 22 seconds after the Toews goal to tie the game back up at 2-2. These quick answers are just amazing. Barely after the Song Which Shall Not Be Named is finished playing, the Predators equalize.
- Annnd then Brandon Saad gives the Hawks the lead again. We are not seeing Rinne at his best. A fine shot by Saad, but you'd like to see Rinne block that one away.
- Oh man Bourque. That may end up being your only chance in this game. Or series. Feel for ya Gabby. Safe travels over the summer.
- The Seabrook goal hurts, and not just because it's now 4-2 late in the 2nd period. It's clear that this isn't the Pekka Rinne we are used to seeing, which is probably the worst thing we needed right now. Yes, we've maybe figured out Darling, but now the Hawks simply need to hunker down, crowd the blue-line and prevent any quality chances from the Preds going forward. A two-goal lead by the Hawks seems secure at the moment. Preds don't have much going offensively at the moment.
- The Hawks are 25-0-0 when leading after two periods. Not good.
- Rinne has some demons to work out. If he doesn't, the Predators are in big trouble in the series.
Super Duper Stars Of The Game
- Craig Smith: 2 assists and a nice offensive presence, created opportunities where none seemed to be possible.
- Ryan Ellis: With Josi missing Weber on the top line, Human Rocketship was our most dangerous blue-liner. He finished with an assist and 4 hits.
- Mike Ribeiro: nice shot to finally beat Darling in the series. Also a nice shot on Shaw on the bench.
Tweets Of The Game
Per Brian Engblom: Ribeiro to Versteeg: "When you going to take your roller blades off, to quit diving?"— Adrian Dater (@adater) April 19, 2015
Second periods, man.... pic.twitter.com/MwkWWmAJqY— Dan D Bradley (@DanDBradley) April 19, 2015
... that hashtag though. Lolz.
Roll the video highlights...