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Nashville Predators 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO): Ah, We’re Doing This Again

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It took a shootout to determine a winner, but thankfully the outcome was one everybody (me) could be happy with.

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Hey everyone, Eamon here again. This was certainly a hockey game, and two teams played in it; the Predators won, so I’m mildly enthused. What takeaways do I have from this incredibly sluggish performance? What should you be focused on as we head into the team’s upcoming series with the Tampa Bay Lightning? Read on to find out.

First Period

The Nashville Predators wasted no time in getting some high-danger chances and shots on goal, but the Chicago Blackhawks looked surprisingly speedy by comparison and countered with offense of their own. Not much happened in the first aside from a few penalties; the Preds managed to kill off a few stick infractions thanks to a more aggressive look on the PK, but the team as a whole remained lost with the man advantage. When guys are consistently opting for shuffling the puck back to the point instead of looking for the wide-open seam pass, you’ve got some coaching issues to work out. I’d say that Chicago largely outplayed Nashville at 5v5 in the first twenty, but the special teams improvement was somewhat of a positive takeaway, so at least that’s something.

Second Period

This recap is likely gonna end up being pretty brief because this was an incredibly uneventful game. The Predators got a few opportunities on the power play, including a flurry right in front of Lankinen, but nobody could bury the puck. The rest of the period was a muddled mess of penalties, failed power plays and both teams refusing to shoot the puck from anywhere besides the perimeter. The Predators outplayed Chicago in all three phases but still failed to break the goalless tie; nobody on this team can finish worth a damn.

Third Period

A very boring game became a slightly less boring one when Nashville finally managed to punch through Chicago; Nick Cousins managed to put a breakaway shot five-hole to make it 1-0 Preds.

Nashville had a number of great moments on the penalty kill after this, forcing takeaways and generally wreaking havoc; unfortunately, one shift of disengaged defense was enough for the Blackhawks to tie the game.

A few more minutes of trading punches took the game to overtime. Yay.

Overtime/Shootout

The beginning of the extra frame was all Chicago; Patrick Kane almost buried a game-winner, but Juuse Saros and poor aim bailed the Predators out multiple times. Nashville managed a chance after Mikael Granlund took the puck to the net, but after that Chicago again pressed. Saros stood on his head to prevent another three high-danger chances, keeping the score tied by a thread when a Mattias Janmark shot skittered through the open crease. Filip Forsberg had a great chance but failed to put it past Lankinen, and the game ended up heading to the shootout. Matt Duchene won the game with a slick goal and Juuse Saros stopped all three Chicago attempts.

Three Big Things

  1. This team can’t finish to save their lives, and that’s awful news considering they were playing a team with shaky goaltending and poor defensive players. Against teams like the Lightning this isn’t gonna cut the mustard (what a weird phrase, am I right?); this team needs to start scoring, fast. Whether that comes from fixing the glaring issues on the power play or just hoping that Matt Duchene’s luck turns, something will need to change for the Predators to be anything more than a weak bubble team.
  2. The defensive effort was much better tonight than what we’ve seen in previous performances. I still saw lapses in concentration that cost the team, but the overall structure and execution of the scheme was maybe the best we’ve seen all year. If the scoring can kick in alongside play like this, the Preds will be able to hang with just about anybody.
  3. Nick Cousins finally nailed his first goal after generating tons of chances this year, so hopefully he and the third line can start adding some good production to support the team through this dry spell. The fourth line has been good all year, so adding another bottom-six unit that can keep its head above water will be ideal.

Victory Tunes

I don’t know why, but this song always puts me in a good mood. Hope y’all enjoyed. Thanks for reading and, as always, go Preds.