Sunday, March 25, 2012

Preds annihilate 'Hawks on national stage

The Nashville Predators were able to get a convincing 6-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night in front a national stage on the NBC Sports Network. With the victory, the Predators have moved ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Matt Halischuk got things going for the Predators in the first period. He was able to just get enough of the puck on a one-timer from the slot to put it past Corey Crawford and into the net. After a great backcheck by Gabriel Bourque, Andrei Kostitsyn gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 15:28 of the first period on a blistering wrist shot from left faceoff circle.

In the second period, the Predators added a third goal when Patric Hornqvist scored on the power play. Shea Weber made the initial shot from the point, and the puck bounced off of Alexander Radulov's skate and Hornqvist's skate to sneak by Crawford. After that goal, Chicago put a lot of offensive pressure on Rinne, but he was able to keep the puck out of his net for the entire period.

Nashville jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third period when Francis Bouillon cranked a slapshot from the point that beat Crawford high on the glove side. That would be the end of Crawford's night. Ray Emery was called in to relieve Crawford after the goal and would remain in net for the Blackhawks for the rest of the game.

Chicago was finally able to get on the scoreboard at 5:58 of the third period when Viktor Stalberg fired a wrist shot through traffic that got past Rinne. However, Nashville would squash any momentum gained by Chicago just 36 seconds later when Weber fired a slapshot off of a faceoff win by Fisher that Emery never saw.

Fisher would add another goal for the Predators on a 2-on-1 rush with Andrei Kostitsyn at 17:33 of the third period on a quick wrist shot. Nashville walked away from the Windy City with a dominating 6-1 effort.

Martin Erat did not play in Sunday night's game due to an upper-body injury. Andrei Kostitsyn replaced him on the top line, joining Fisher and his brother Sergei Kostitsyn. After being scratched in Saturday night's game against Winnipeg, Jordin Tootoo found his way back into the lineup on Sunday night for a limited time. Early in the first period, Tootoo squared off with Brandon Bollig in a fight that left Tootoo bloodied and battered. Tootoo suffered an upper-body injury, and did not return for the remainder of the game.

Nashville will take on the Western Conference leading St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center. Nashville will be looking to try to stay ahead of the Red Wings and Blackhawks in the standings in order to have the home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Shea Weber(NSH)
2. Matt Halischuk(NSH)
3. Pekka Rinne(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Shea Weber(NSH)
3. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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