After being down 4-0 in the second period, the Nashville Predators managed to score four goals of their own to tie the game but fell short losing 5-4 to the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night.
Undisciplined play led to six power play opportunities for the Blackhawks who managed two tallies with the man advantage.
Predators forward Martin Erat took a slashing penalty in the middle of the second period. Erat attributes the lack of discipline as a contributing factor to Nashville losing the game, despite the fact that the Predators also scored two goals on the power play.
“We can’t take that many penalties. I think that was one of the reasons that cost us the game. They shot a lot of pucks. They had two guys in front of the net. They capitalized. One was a lucky bounce and the second one was a nice play through the crease,” he said.
Erat picked up his 19th goal of the season in the middle of the second period to start the Predators comeback. The power play goal gave Erat 58 points on the season, a new career high.
Nashville captain Shea Weber scored twice for the Predators and Alexander Radulov scored his third goal since returning to the Predators lineup to round out the scoring for Nashville.
Weber’s second goal of the night, his 19th of the season, tied the game for the Predators and was Nashville’s second power play marker of the contest scored at 7:10 into the third period. Chicago retook the lead just 1:09 later when Brent Seabrook picked up his 9th goal of the year to give the Blackhawks the 5-4 lead.
“We just tied it up and didn’t stay focused after that,” Erat said. “One little mistake and [the puck] ended up in our net. We knew we were in the game, but those kinds of things are going to break you. We scored two goals in the third period. After we scored the fourth goal we needed to tighten it up defensively and we didn’t.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz said Nashville was confident after tying the game and compared the contest to a playoff match.
“I thought that we had all the momentum. We had to make sure that we stayed on the details, and keep working and keep battling. I felt when we got it to 4‐4 that we would at least be getting a point here, and just [needed to] keep battling. That was a playoff intensity game, there’s no question it was, on both sides. That was a high‐caliber, playoff style of game,” Trotz said.
Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Patrick Kane, Viktor Stalberg, and Seabrook scored for Chicago. For Nashville, Ryan Suter picked up three assists and David Legwand pitched in with two helpers. Legwand’s two assists gave him 500 career points, and is the first Predator in franchise history to reach the milestone.
Nashville ends the season series with the Blackhawks with a 4-1-1 record. With the win, Chicago officially punched their ticket to the post-season. Fourth spot in the Western Conference standings is up for grabs and will be a fight to the finish between Nashville, Detroit and Chicago to see who will meet in the first round of the post season. Detroit and Chicago are tied with 97 points. The Predators remain in fourth spot with 98 points.
Nashville next plays on Tuesday night when they host the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena.