Is it April already? No, not quite. But man it sure felt like a playoff game Saturday night when the Nashville Predators played host to the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville defeated Chicago by a score of 3-2 in a shootout in a game that was far and away the best game of the year from an excitement standpoint.
It felt like a playoff atmosphere. As predicted, there were a lot of Blackhawk fans in the building. And I mean A LOT! If I had to guess, I'd say the crowd was about 60-40 in favor of the Preds. That's something that needs to be corrected when they come into town for the next game in Nashville on February 24th, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
The first two periods of this game were controlled and dominated by Chicago. They had possession of the puck, they played very soundly on the defensive end, and had chances to put the game out of reach. And then came the third period.
Jerred Smithson got the Preds on the board at the 9:46 mark of the 3rd period. That's when you could start to feel it. I was fired up, the Preds fans around me in 303 were fired up, and you could tell it was time. The crowd gave one of its famous standing ovations throughout the TV timeout, and it worked like a charm. The building was alive, and it gave the team a jolt of energy. I touched on it yesterday about how important an energetic crowd could be. Saturday night proved it.
Phillip said it best. When Shea Weber skated out onto the ice after the TV timeout, he had that look in his eye. You knew they were going to give him the puck. And he blasted an absolute missle right past Crawford to tie the game at the 12:20 mark of the 3rd period. You just knew the Preds were going to pull it off after that. The momentum had taken a complete 180 degree turn towards Nashville. Marcel Goc got the only goal in the shootout and the Preds came out with a victory.
This was the most fun game to be a part of so far this year by far. This game was what hockey is all about. You had fans jawing back and forth at each other. You had fights in the lower bowl. And you had two teams on the ice skating their tails off.
Predator fans learned something about themselves and their team Saturday night. The group of guys on the Nashville Predators team are resilient. They never quit and they really showed me something. They got after it in the 3rd period. And the crowd had just as much to do with this win as the players did. The Bridge was rockin' Saturday night and it was fun to be a part of.
It was so great seeing all of those jackass Blackhawk fans walking out without saying anything! Finally, their mouths were closed. This is by no means revenge for the playoffs. We'll deal with them their one day, but it's still very sweet. That was just a hell of a game. Hopefully Sunday night's game at the United Center will end in a Preds victory. It'd be nice to stick that knife in their back a little deeper.