The Nashville Predators continued their road trip in Canada as they traveled to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. The night would belong to Filip Forsberg as he would get a hat trick in the first 25:36 of the game. The first goal for Forsberg came at 5:46 of the first period, a power-play goal. The next two goals were in the second period, within 1:56 of each other.
The Preds would play “prevent” defense and hang on for a 3-2 victory. Toronto scored both of their goals in the third period. The first goal was a power-play goal scored by Josh Leivo (3) at 2:23. The Maple Leafs were able to get another goal at 17:37 when Morgan Rielly (6) beat Carter Hutton. The Preds defense was able to hang on to cling to the win.
Keys to Watch
The Preds/Hawks rivalry is not for the weak. The teams don’t like each other. The fans deplore the opposing side. This season has been dominated by the team from the Windy City. In four games played this season, Chicago has won three with Nashville’s lone win coming on December 10th in a 5-1 shellacking in Nashville. Chicago has won three straight against Nashville and will be looking to end the regular season series on a high note. Corey Crawford has played exceptional this season against Nashville with a 3-0-0 record, 1.33 goals-against average, and .966 save percentage.
Third Pair Success
Since Barret Jackman has been sidelined with an injury, Petter Granberg and Anthony Bitetto have been placed on the third pairing together. There was nervousness surrounding this pairing due to the overlying youth between the two. When a veteran, such as Jackman, leaves the lineup, you could miss out on his style of play and his consistency. Granberg and Bitteto are playing well as partners. Their abilities mold well together as a solid third pair and are eating lots of ice time to give the top 2 lines much needed breaks.
What does success look like?
Every evaluation of the Chicago Blackhawks shows that their team struggles when the opposing side is physical. The Predators must be dominating on the boards and smother their top offensive lines from getting great chances on Pekka Rinne. Nashville also has to make sure they block plenty of shots. In the game against Toronto, Nashville blocked 26 shots to Toronto’s eight blocked shots. Another aspect for success against Chicago are giveaways. In the Preds/Hawks game on January 12th, the Predators gave the puck away 15 times compared to Chicago’s seven giveaways. Consistency and physical play can lead Nashville to victory.
The Nashville Predators will look to extend their away point streak to ten games and come out of Chicago with a victory. The game will be carried on NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm!