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Nashville Predators 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1: Hawks Can’t Solve Rinne

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Pekka Rinne stopped 43 of 44 shots and his excellent play led the Predators to a crucial Central Division win.

Another game in the Windy City against the unloved Hawks.

Pekka Rinne made some fantastic saves early in the first on a fully-firing Blackhawks team. The Predators would draw the first penalty of the night, and a shorthanded chance by Brandon Saad was quickly erased by Rinne. The power play expired with no shots by the Preds. Meh.

The Preds had a solid penalty kill on an Arvidsson tripping penalty. The momentum would pick up at the end of the first, with several chances by Forsberg and Subban forcing Crawford to make big saves.

Artem Anisimov buried a short-handed rebound to give the Blackhawks the lead at the end of the first. The Hawks took 21 shots on Rinne with barely any fight from the Predators. Yuck.

Calle Jarnkrok buried a wobbly puck 59 seconds into the second period to tie up the game. On a Subban penalty, the Predators completed a solid kill and looked like a different team.

On a subsequent power play, Craig Smith lasered a wicked wrister around 11 minutes into the second period. Some slick stick handling by Kevin Fiala kept the Blackhawks from clearing the puck.

Miika Salomaki was whistled for a hook, putting the Blackhawks on the power play. Again, a complete penalty kill by the Predators really disrupted the first period momentum by the home team. However, the Predators went right back on the penalty kill after an interference call on... Rinne. Another solid kill by the Preds.

Colton Sissons drew a penalty with eight seconds remaining in the second. So many penalties.

The Sissons penalty would not result in any goals, but the Predators would quickly draw another penalty. A few short seconds later, a weak call on PK Subban established a 4-on-4 game.

A bizarre sequence that saw Patrick Kane colliding full speed with Rinne resulted in more 4-on-4 hockey. Smith was unable to capitalize on a 2-on-1 chance for another goal, and Predators fans continued biting their nails as the clock ran down.

With nine minutes left in the third, a Sissons penalty put the Predators on a crucial penalty kill.

The referees eventually got tired of the penalties and let the boys play. Coach Joel Quenneville pulled Crawford with a little less than two minutes remaining, but the Blackhawks would not be able to find the back of the net with an extra attacker.

After an awful first period, the Predators played much better second and third periods for the win. Incredible effort from players like Austin Watson and Freddy Gaudreau ensured the Predators had a chance to battle back and win this contest.

Pekka Rinne was an absolute goaltender god in this game.

Random Observations

  • Chris Mason has great suits and ties.
  • Pekka making some HUGE saves early in the game. He clearly came to play.
  • Freddy G almost went end-to-end for a goal.
  • ‘Tis quiet in the United Center.
  • As I was. An ugly shorthanded goal for the Hawks puts them on the board first.
  • The differential in shots on goal is depressing.
  • Hello Calle. Tie game.
  • The Swedes gaining momentum for the Preds.
  • Josi almost went end-to-end for a goal but was tripped (no call).
  • SMITTY aka “Crazy Legs Craig Smith”
  • That was Smith’s 100th career goal!
  • Corey Crawford has obviously watched tape on Arvidsson’s shorthanded attempts.
  • At the end of the second, Rinne has saved 28 out of 29 shots.
  • The Milwaukee Admirals won on the road tonight against the Rockford IceHogs. Baby Preds 5, Baby Hawks 2.
  • Sam Girard needs to stay in the lineup. That will be all.
  • Kane collided with Rinne full speed and it’s a good thing this game is in Chicago.
  • I might have died if Arvi’s shot from the blue line had leaked in behind Crawford.
  • Tons of pressure from the Hawks in the final minutes, as expected.
  • Empty net. Cue panicking.
  • Rinne is clutch for the Predators with a .977 save percentage tonight.

OTF Super Duper Stars of the Game

  1. Pekka Rinne: Rinne made 43 saves tonight. Nashville is not currently playing well enough to deserve their stellar Finnish net minder. “You have saved our lives. We are eternally grateful.”

2. Calle Jarnkrok: 1 goal, 15:48 time on ice. Jarny’s tally put the Predators on the board after a first period full of subpar play. Also, Jarnkrok won 11 of 15 face-offs tonight...impressive.

3. Craig Smith: 1 goal, 11:36 time on ice. He was all over the ice, and his tally would be the game winning goal. In addition, his goal was his 100th career goal. Congrats, Smitty!

Tweets of the Night

Praise.

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