The Nashville Predators started out the game on Wednesday night with a flurry of goals. The first period gave the Preds a 3-0 lead with two goals in the first by Colin Wilson, and an additional goal by former Blackhawk, Viktor Stalberg. Going into the second period, the Predator faithful had a lot to be positive about, yet that optimism would be tested.
At the beginning of the second period, Blackhawks goalie, Corey Crawford, was pulled due to inept play, and allowing two weak goals in the first. The Blackhawks replaced Crawford with backup, Scott Darling. Darling was the best player on the ice on Wednesday night, stopping all Preds advances for the rest of the game.
The second period saw the Blackhawks tie up the game with goals by Niklas Hjalmarsson at 1:43 and two PPGs by Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.
Both teams were unable to score during the 3rd period, therefore, the game went to overtime. This would be the first OT game during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The first OT was marred in controversy due to one blatant non-call and one undeserving call. The first instance was a non-call when Duncan Keith mauled Taylor Beck as Beck was trying to score on a breakaway. At minimum, this should have been a minor penalty. Many commentators agree that it should have been a penalty shot. The other was a tripping call on Seth Jones at 17:35 of the OT. Luckily, the Preds were able to kill that penalty.
The second OT brought more back-and-forth play. The Blackhawks were finally able to break through and beat Pekka Rinne as Duncan Keith scored at 7:49.
Nashville will look to rebound after a grueling matchup on Wednesday night.
Keys to Watch
Recovery is key…
Wednesday night’s matchup was a battle. Both teams expended as much energy as possible to come out on top with a victory. The Nashville Predators needed to get as much rest as possible after having a brutal, 2 OT slugfest. Neither the Preds nor the Blackhawks held formal practices on Thursday. Yet, the Preds opted to have practice sessions with the scratches from Game 1. Those players were Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli, Victor Bartley, and recently re-called Kevin Fiala. Mike Fisher is still day-to-day with a lower body injury. Fisher left during the 2nd period, and his presence on, and off, the ice was sorely missed.
Crawford back in net
Less than 48 hours after getting pulled after allowing 3 goals in the 1st period, Blackhawks goaltender, Corey Crawford has been tabbed with the starting role in tonight’s starting role. Darling entered the game and played a significant role in defeating the Preds 4-3 in 2 OTs. Coach Joel Quenneville said that going back to Crawford was a “no-brainer”. We will see if the Preds are able to “light” Crawford up again in goal or if we will see Darling back during this series.
Oh, the 2nd period….
What can explain the atrocities that were witnessed at Bridgestone Arena during the 2nd period on Wednesday night? A 3-0 lead dropped in an instance. This year has shown this Preds’ team struggle mightily during the 2nd period. For some reason, the team lost their intensity, and stopped skating. This is why the Blackhawks got back into the game. If the Preds would have kept their intensity level, they would be up 1-0. Nashville has to keep the intensity up and take this series tied going up to Chicago.
The Predators will look to tie the series up tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Be sure to make it out to the arena tonight!!! Tonight’s matchup will have a late, 8:30 pm CDT start. You can catch all of the Preds action on SportSouth, NBCSN. Also, you can listen live to 102.5 The Game.