Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a 3-2 score in front of 16,592 at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night to increase Chicago's winless streak to nine games.
Nashville got on the board in the first period when Ryan Suter snapped a one-timer past Ray Emery. Sergei Kostitsyn had a good opportunity to shoot, but opted to make a pass to Suter who was able to fit the puck under the crossbar for the goal.
Chicago responded less than a minute later when Bryan Bickell fired a wrist shot from the slot that beat Pekka Rinne on the stick side. Bickell had lots of room and lots of time to shoot, and he was able to tie the game for Chicago.
At 17:21 of the second period, Nick Spaling gave the Predators a 2-1 lead when he deflected a Ryan Ellis shot past Emery for the goal. Nashville took that lead into the third period.
Marian Hossa would make things interesting at 6:05 of the third period when he was able to fire a shot past Rinne to tie the game for the Blackhawks. Chicago had really been pressing hard, and Hossa's goal seemed to be inevitable. However, the Predators would respond at 14:18 of the third period with a goal by Ellis. Nashville held on for their first victory in four games.
Patric Hornqvist missed the game with an upper-body injury, which left an opening in the power play. Brandon Yip was called upon to fill that power play role for the Predators, and he logged 2:44 seconds of power play time. Barry Trotz felt comfortable with Yip filling that role in Hornqvist's absence.
"(Yip) has done that in the past, plus he's a big body," Trotz said. "We just wanted to get some net presence without (Hornqvist) in the lineup."
The power play opportunity was a big step in providing Yip with more chances to be productive. Yip was acquired by the Predators from waivers on January 19, and has been battling for ice time ever since. He was happy to see the confidence that Nashville's coaching staff had in him to put him on the power play.
"Yeah, that's nice. We're going to miss (Hornqvist) in front of the net there. He does a great job. He's one of the best in the league. I've been working with him in practice, and working on tips and trying to be strong in front so hopefully I can fulfill that role," Yip said.
Bridgestone Arena had a bit of a playoff atmosphere in this game. The fans were provided with gold rally towels, which really added to the traditional T.V. timeout standing ovation that Nashville has become known for.
"It's always a great atmosphere here. Every game I've played in it seems like they're sold out, but it was nice to see those yellow towels flying around. It was pretty cool," Yip said.
With the win, the Predators sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with a seven point lead on the Blackhawks. With St. Louis losing to Columbus, the Predators have pulled within three points of the Blues.
"It was a huge four-point game. Any division game is huge, but especially with them creeping on our backs here. It gives us a little bit of a cushion, so we're just looking to catch St. Louis," Yip said.
The Predators have a tough challenge on Friday night when they travel to Detroit to take on the red-hot Red Wings. Detroit won their 21st consecutive game on home ice on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars. Nashville will try to break that winning streak at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night.
"We've just got to play our game and do all of the small things. Sometimes we get away from getting pucks deep and little things like that, little turnovers. Detroit capitalizes on that. If we stick to our gameplan, I think we'll end their streak, hopefully," Yip said.
Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Ryan Ellis(NSH)
2. Nick Spaling(NSH)
3. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
Official 3 Stars:
1. Ryan Ellis(NSH)
2. Ryan Suter(NSH)
3. Marian Hossa(CHI)
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)