The Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 Saturday night in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena, but had to win without Francis Bouillon.
Rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis played 16:30 on Saturday night against Chicago at Bridgestone Arena (Sarah Fuqua photo)
Late in the first period, Bouillon left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
“It is tough to lose a guy like that,” rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “He is a steady guy back there. He plays big minutes for us, but everyone adjusted well. We are used to playing with each other and mixing it up. We just had to get used to that and do the best we could.”
The Predators are already missing All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter from the lineup. Suter has missed the last three games, also with an upper-body injury.
The Predators are 2-1 without Suter in the lineup. “Losing Suter is tough enough, but losing Frankie [Bouillon] too really puts a hurt in our defensive corps. We did a good job adjusting and got the win.”
“It wasn’t too hectic. It is not our first rodeo. We were prepared,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said about playing the final two periods with only five defensemen.
Chicago got on the board first when Marian Hossa was able to step around Predators captain Shea Weber and beat Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne at 15:05 into the first period.
Nashville tied the game a little over two minutes later on the power play when Craig Smith scored his 10th goal of the season at 17:19 of the opening frame.
“It was good puck movement,” Ellis, who assisted on Smith’s goal, said about the power play. “We broke in one side went to the other and back to the top. It was just a shot and Smith put it in. It was great positioning by him.”
The Predators went on to score three second period goals to take a 4-1 lead into the third period. Kevin Klein scored from the red line at 5:15 of the middle frame to give the Predators a 2-1 lead less than two minutes after Sergei Kostitsyn had a goal waived off for hitting the puck into the net with a high stick.
Colin Wilson picked up the game-winning goal at the 11:14 mark of the second period, and Kostitsyn added the Predators fourth goal when he took a feed from Mike Fisher and beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford at 16:03 into the period.
Hossa picked up his second goal of the night just 48 seconds into the third period, but Nashville added another goal, Patric Hornqvist’s 13th of the season, to make it 5-2 just 3:08 into the final frame.
“Chicago is highly skilled and a great team. Tonight we played some good defense and that is what got us through,” Ellis said of the win.
Nashville is now 9-2-2 against Central Division opponents.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Chicago, who played Friday night, beating the Florida Panthers by a 3-1 score at the United Center.
The Predators have the day off on Sunday, but are back in action Monday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be the final time the two Central Division rivals meet this season. Nashville leads the season series 4-0-1.