Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preds stay hot heading into All-Star break

The Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a 3-1 score on Tuesday night at the United Center for their fourth consecutive victory heading into the All-Star break.

Craig Smith got the scoring started for the Predators in the first period. He was able to fool Corey Crawford on a quick turnaround shot through the legs of a Chicago defender for the goal. Matt Halischuk was instrumental to the play. He was able to track down the puck and keep a swarm of Blackhawks at bay. Smith ended up with the puck and netted his 11th goal of the season.

Mike Fisher scored his third goal in the past two games right from the slot. Patric Hornqvist made a great pass with his skate to Fisher, and he was able to put it past Crawford. Hornqvist's stick was tied up on the play, so using his skate was the only option. It was a great individual effort by Hornqvist, and he was rewarded with an assist.

Brandon Yip squared off with Steve Montador at 13:12 in the second period. It was Yip's first fight in a Predator uniform, and he was able to do a pretty nice job against Montador. After that fight, however, the Blackhawks seemed to grab the momentum.

Dave Bolland was finally able to put the Blackhawks on the board at 7:20 of the third period while on the power play. He fired a one-timer from that slot that deflected off of Pekka Rinne's pad and into the net.

Nashville, however, was able to weather the storm. Colin Wilson added an empty-net power play goal at 19:47 of the third period to put the game away for the Predators.

Roman Josi was very solid for the Predators in this game. He made several great defensive plays against Patrick Kane, and was positionally sound all night long. Overall, it was a great team win for the Predators heading into the All-Star break.

With the win, the Predators leap-frogged the Blackhawks in the Western Conference standings. Nashville improved to a 30-16-4 record with 64 points heading into the All-Star break, while Chicago dropped to 29-15-6 on the season with 64 points as well. Because the Predators have more wins, they hold down the fifth spot in the Western Conference while Chicago is in sixth place.

With the exception of Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Craig Smith, the Predators will have a few days off to recharge the batteries. Nashville's next game will be next Tuesday night in Minnesota. Weber, Suter and Smith will participate in the All-Star festivities this weekend in Ottawa.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Mike Fisher(NSH)
3. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Dave Bolland(CHI)
3. Mike Fisher(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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