Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
Coming off a loss to Minnesota the night before, Nashville had a golden opportunity to rectify it against the league leading Chicago Blackhawks at home. However, Corey Crawford had other plans in mind.
With goals coming from Marcus Kruger, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks walked in and out of Nashville with a 3-0 win and remained the only team in the NHL to not have a regulation loss blemish their record
Shots on goal were again a glaring issue for the Predators, as they recorded a miniscule 7 shots through 40 minutes of play, but finished the game with 17 after a 10 shot third period. Predators defenseman Scott Hannan spoke about consistency being an issue after the end of the first quarter of the season.
“I think when we start playing a little more consistently, as far as our confidence and throwing pucks at the net, you can outshoot them,” said Hannan.
Chicago was able to outshoot the Predators in the first twenty minutes of the game, 10-3, however both sides were held off the board. Although rather entertaining with multiple chances in each zone, both goaltenders were up to the task to keep the game 0-0 heading into the second period.
In a span of 1:06 in the second period, all of that would change. Marcus Kruger got the Blackhawks on the board 6:14 in the second after he lasered a shot past Pekka Rinne. At 7:20, Duncan Keith backhanded a shot tipped by Jonathan Toews over Rinne’s shoulder and in the net to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. A little of a lackluster remaining of the period from the Preds, they would be outshot 20-7 heading into the third period.
“That’s a good team over there, give them credit. They have a lot of skill, a lot of talent, and a lot of speed,” said Scott Hannan. “When we play our way, which we didn’t tonight, we can be right in there with them. We have to make better plays and be consistent in what we want to do and throw pucks at the net.”
Nashville’s play was a tad better in the third with multiple in-front chances from Mike Fisher and David Legwand, however a goal from Patrick Kane at 4:27 of the third (and oddly reminiscent of his Stanley Cup winning goal) killed off most of the Predators forward momentum and was effectively the “nail in the coffin” in front of the sellout Bridgestone Arena crowd. While the Predators fans began to file out in the last 5 minutes, Chicago’s fans stayed and cheered on their team when the clock hit triple zeros.
The frustration was clear on the Predators end of play as the third period progressed and chances were being blocked left and right by Chicago players. In the end, though, the Predators know that getting back to basics may be the best approach in the long run.
“You just have to stay the course and stay with it. You’re going to have games and stretches where things don’t bounce your way. It sounds so cliché, but you have to just play the right way,” said Hannan. “If that’s getting pucks in deep and working it, well that’s cliché but it’s proven to work. Teams that do it on a consistent basis tend to do well at the end of the year. We just have to get back to doing those little things.”
FULL POST-GAME QUOTES FROM SCOTT HANNAN
On the difficulty of defending the Blackhawks:
“It’s not that difficult if we play the right way. We turned pucks over and we didn’t get the puck in deep. When they’re back checking and we turn pucks over, it creates a lot of speed for their fast forwards. We have to play the right way against them. That’s a good team over there, give them credit. Like you said, they have a lot of skill, a lot of talent, and a lot of speed. When we play our way, which we didn’t tonight, we can be right in there with them. We have to make better plays and be consistent in what we want to do and throw pucks at the net.”
On if fatigue was an issue for tonight’s game:
“No, no, I don’t think it was a matter of us not having our legs. It was just not doing the little things like throw pucks at the net. We need good first passes and we have to come back hard. I think at times turnovers can cost you and it seemed like we had a few times there were bad bounces, but they worked for it too. They threw a lot at the net and when you throw a lot at the net, good things happen.”
On if the game becomes increasingly frustrating when bounces aren’t going your way:
“You just have to stay the course and stay with it. You’re going to have games and stretches where things don’t bounce your way. It sounds so cliché, but you have to just play the right way. If that’s getting pucks in deep and working it, well that’s cliché but it’s proven to work. Teams that do it on a consistent basis tend to do well at the end of the year. We just have to get back to doing those little things.”
On being outshot for the 11th straight game:
“You know, it depends. Sometimes those shot totals are a little bit different. It’s the amount you throw at the net and the amount of traffic you get. I think when we start playing a little more consistently, as far as our confidence and throwing pucks at the net, you can outshoot them. I think sometimes a lot of teams just want to throw pucks at our net. They know how good Pekks is and they know when you face a goalie like that, that’s what you want to do. It causes a little bit of commotion, you see how teams get running around sometimes when a lot of pucks are thrown, because you don’t know where the pucks going to go.”
Powerplay – 0 for 1, 0%
Penalty Kill – 2 for 2, 100%
Best Play of the Game: Mike Fisher had a one-timer late in the third, but was robbed by Corey Crawford. Best chance of the game
Worst Play of the Game: As Trotz noted, the “comedy of errors” unfolding for the first goal, which ended up with Josi kicking it to Kruger who wired it past Rinne to make it 1-0
My Three Stars (voted by me):
#1: – Corey Crawford
#2: – Marcus Kruger
#3: – Patrick Kane
POST-GAME NOTES (From Nashville Predators PR Staff)
The Predators fell to 1-1-2 at Bridgestone Arena for the 2012-13 season. Only Los Angeles and Chicago have played fewer games on home ice.
Tonight marked only the third time this season that the Predators have failed to earn at least one point in the standings (5-3-4, 14 pts). Nashville had earned points in its last five games (4-0-1).
Nashville won the face-off battle, winning 29 of 49 draws (59.2%). Five of the six players who took a face-off were at 50% or better. The Predators are eighth in the NHL in efficiency on the dots (51.2%).
Sixteen of Nashville’s 18 skaters attempted a shot on goal (including attempts blocked and misses).
The Predators saw only 0:58 of power-play time against Chicago. The Preds are 26th in power-play time this season, with only 62:11.
Pekka Rinne allowed more than two goals for only the third time this season (10 GP).
Mike Fisher recorded three blocked shots. He leads all forwards with 21 blocks on the season.
Paul Gaustad pushed his face-off win percentage to 60.9% with a 9-of-14 performance against the Blackhawks. Gaustad also tied for the team lead in shots (3), and was second on the team in hits (3) in the game.
Rich Clune now has five fighting majors in 11 games for the Predators – he leads the team with 29 PIM. Clune logged 11:48 of ice time, a season high, and the second highest total of his career (14:05, March 2, 2010 with Los Angeles).
Clune also continued a streak of recording a plus or even rating in all of his games with Nashville. He is the only player on the team without a minus rating in any single game in 2012-13. Clune has had only one game in his career (24 GP) with a minus rating (March 12, 2010 with Los Angeles).
Nashville is back in action Tuesday night as they take on the Sharks at Bridgestone Arena. Game is at 7:00pm CT.