Friday night, the Nashville Predators put forth the same effort, and then some, as they did in the game one loss on Wednesday night. This time, the result was much different. Nashville entered the third period with a 3-2 lead, but in the second half of the period, it quickly turned into demolishing the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators made a statement by putting up six goals in the game, making it nine goals that Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford has given up in two games.
“It was awesome,” said Seth Jones on the team putting up six goals. “Things just started going our way there and we stuck with it. The floodgates just kind of opened in the third.”
An important piece to the puzzle of the win was surviving the second period. Not only did Nashville survive the second period, which included a four-minute penalty kill, they maintained a one-goal lead to enter the third.
“Huge…huge,” said Jones on still having the lead after two. “We killed a four-minute penalty and another minor. Six minutes of penalties in one period, and we killed it off. It gave us a lot of momentum going into the third. I thought we controlled the second half of the second period as well, which kind of helped us take momentum into the third period. From there, I thought we out-skated them and did a great job of being physical on them.”
Midway through the second period, Predators captain Shea Weber left the ice with an injury and immediately headed down the tunnel to the locker room. He wouldn’t return to the game. With half of the game remaining, this meant the entire defensive corps would have to step up their game to make up for the loss of Weber. Head coach Peter Laviolette was pleased with the effort his team showed in Weber’s absence.
“I think everyone was locked in the moment and there’s injuries that go on through the course of the game,” said Laviolette. “You don’t know what they are or the significance of the injuries but certainly you never like to lose any player. You certainly don’t want to lose a guy who takes down as many minutes as [Weber] and the captain of your team.”
Seth Jones and the rest of the blueliners saw Weber’s injury as a rallying point for the team.
“It does for sure, and it’s tough losing a guy like Shea, who’s so important to our team,” said Jones, who tallied 21:52 on the ice. “Everyone had to come together at that point. On the defense side we were rolling five, so the shifts were short. We were just trying to play a simple game. The team did an excellent job with five guys on the ice playing solid defensively, and moving through the neutral zone without turning the puck over and managing it. Then, when we got in the offensive zone, things just seemed to be clicking.”
In their 6-2 win, the Predators tied the series at 1-1 and have momentum going into game three on Sunday afternoon. The team credits the fans for continuing to support them throughout the season. Friday night was a raucous and loud crowd that never settled down.
“I didn’t think we’d top game one to be honest, but tonight was ridiculous,” said Jones. “The atmosphere was so awesome. It was so loud that you could barely talk to your teammates on the bench. You’re screaming to each other just trying to talk about plays or things you have to do on the ice. The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
Nashville did exactly what they needed to do in game two. They played a physical, smart game where they didn’t get pushed around. The Predators took advantage of opportunities and shoved right back when necessary. It’s a whole new series now, and Nashville is in control.
View Peter Laviolette’s post game press conference:
Photo courtesy Christina McCullough