The Nashville Predators showed some fight back on Thursday night as they were able to beat the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena by a score of 5-2.
Chicago was the first to get on the board as Brad Richards scored at 13:27. After getting snubbed for the nomination for the Calder trophy, Filip Forsberg responded for the Preds at 14:42 of the first period.
The second period had lots of back-and-forth action, but no team was able to break through. Going into the third period, the series was on the line.
Nashville responded in the third like a desperate team. James Neal started the scoring for the Predators only 47 seconds into the period.
Colin Wilson was able to get on the board next at 3:02 with a PPG, from a beautiful pass by Mike Ribeiro. Next, Filip Forsberg was able to get his second of the game only 12 seconds later, and the rout was on.
Kris Versteeg cut the Preds lead by two at 14:52, and the Blackhawks pulled Scott Darling for the extra-attacker.
This game had lots of physical play, and late in the third was no different. There was a sequence of plays where Seth Jones and Andrew Shaw were trying to get position near the goal. After the whistle was blown, Shaw took a “cheap” shot on Jones and punched him in the face. Paul Gaustad came to the aid of his teammate. On this one play, Seth Jones was called for roughing, Gaustad was called for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct, and Shaw was called for a double-minor for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct.
After all of the physical play, the Predators were able to score one more time when Filip Forsberg scored an EN-PPG at 19:49. Forsberg’s hat trick was the 1st playoff hat trick in Preds history.
Nashville will look to force a game 7 as they travel to the United Center tonight at 7:00 pm CDT.
Keys to Watch
The Rubik’s Cube solved?
Scott Darling has been an enigma during this series. He has come off of the bench and been a revelation for the Chicago Blackhawks. If not for Darling, this series could be over, in favor of Nashville. During the 3rd period, Darling was a man, instead of a machine. Nashville was able to figure out how to score on Darling by getting him to move post-to-post and taking high shots on the 6’6″, 232 pound goalie. Darling has been announced as the Game 6 starter. The Predators will need to continue Thursday’s 3rd period and push the series back to Nashville for Game 7.
Pekka Rinne playing well
The last two games from Pekka Rinne has been outstanding. Over the past two, Rinne has a SV % of .933 and .938 and allowed a total of 5 goals in 160:37 TOI. The Predators will need their Vezina-nominated goaltender to continue playing well for the rest of the series. The Blackhawks have very talented forwards that know how to score. Nashville will need Rinne to continue playing well in order to extend the series back to Bridgestone Arena.
Special Teams production
The 2014-15 NHL Playoffs gave the Preds the ability to increase their production on special teams. The Preds are currently producing on the PP at 26.3%. The PK has been just as good at 88.2%. In both categories, Nashville is ranked 5th amongst teams in the playoffs. The Preds will have to continue their special teams production to stay alive in this series. When they have an advantage, the Predators must capitalize.
The Nashville Predators will look to push this Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup back to the Music City on Monday night. Chicago leads the series and can clinch with a win tonight. With a 7:00pm CT start, this game can be seen on NBC or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game.