The Nashville Predators suffered a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in game one of a series that is becoming one of the most heated rivalries in the NHL. They knew they couldn't go to Chicago down 2-0 in the series, and tonight, they took it to Joel Quenneville's formidable squad, making the Hawks look silly in a 6-2 blowout.
Another sea of yellow was in the stands looking to will their team to the win, and the team got off to an auspicious start as 2 minutes and 47 seconds in the game, Colin Wilson scored his 3rd game of the young series on the powerplay after Kris Versteeg was sent to the box for 2 minutes for charging Preds' LW Gabriel Bourque.
However, later on the period, Chicago went on the attack, and Patrick Sharp scored on a tic-tac-toe play with assists from Niklas Hjalmarsson and Andrew Shaw to tie the game. This knotting up of the game would not last long, as Roman Josi, who has emerged this year as one of the premier workhorse blue-liners in the league, scored after an assist from his star counterpart Shea Weber.
In the 2nd period, the Predators, already without their powerful attack-leader Mike Fisher via a lower body injury suffered in game one, lost defensive staple Shea Weber to an injury of the same like. About 10 minute into the period, Superman Patrick Kane leveled the game at two via an assist by Brent Seabrook. However, not too long after that, the feisty team from the Music City would gain the lead back as Craig Smith, always near the net, flipped the puck right over the struggling Corey Crawford.
The 1 goal lead for Nashville would balloon to an astronomical 4 goal lead after the 3rd period, as the Predators simply embarrassed Chi-town. In a series of under 3 minutes, Smashville would score 3 goals, with quick scores by Filip Forsberg, Craig Smith (in his 2nd of the night), and Mike Santorelli. Constant pressure by Nashville and poor goaltending by Crawford put Chicago into a massive hole that they could not dig out of whatsoever, giving Nashville the relatively easy win, even without arguably their best two on-ice players in Fisher and Weber.
The loss for Chicago puts strong doubts into Joel Quenneville's mind as to whether or not Corey Crawford should be the starting goaltender heading back home to the United Center. Scott Darling is waiting in the wings to save the day, and may be called upon to right the ship for the Blackhawks, who were befuddled by the lightning-quick skating by Nashville tonight.
Nashville's victory puts a new light into the series, but we will now wait to see if Weber can return in the next game. If he can't, the Predators should not fret, as Roman Josi and Cody Franson are manning the blueline more than admirably. Also, each line is putting forth quality minutes on the attack. Peter Laviolette should be quite content with his team's effort tonight.
Game 3 will start at 3:00 PM EST at the United Center as the heated series continues.