CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks welcomed the Nashville Predators into the United Center on Saturday night for the first time since the opening round playoff series that we would all just like to forget about. The Blackhawks entered the game on the heels of being beaten thoroughly by the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, their first regulation loss on the young season.
Nashville superstar P.K. Subban summed this one up perfectly by telling FOX Sports Tennessee after the game, “We were the better team the whole game. That’s not bulletin board material, the numbers don’t lie.”
Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette went a step further when he called the goal by Sharp in the third period “Brutal”. “Brutal. We are playing an unbelievable game to that point and to have it taken away from us like that is ridiculous. … It should have been a shutout. It should’ve been 1-0.”
The Predators dominated this game throughout the majority of the night, leading 1-0 all the way up to the the end of the third period when Patrick Sharp found a way to even the game up at one-a-piece when he slipped a backhander past Pekka Rinne. Patrick Sharp said that he thought that it was “tough sledding out there” on Saturday night, largely due to the Predators discipline and pressure.
“That was a well coached team out there,” Sharp said. “Pretty disciplined through the neutral zone. I don’t think we exited the zone with possession too many times throughout the whole game so we had to grind it out a little bit. I thought in the third period Joel [Quenneville] mixed the lines up and got a little offensive zone time. Got a couple of shots on net and able to sneak one in there. I still think we’re capable of scoring multiple goals a game. We can score a lot. That’s never a problem.”
In the overtime period, Brandon Saad tipped a pass from Patrick Kane past Pekka Rinne for the game winning goal, his fourth of the season. Saad’s four game winning goals this season have already matched his total from last season with Columbus, and the goal this evening was his sixth goal of the season through just six games.
“I think it just had to do with us not managing the puck the right way,” Saad said, according to the Chicago Sun Times. “We had a lot of turnovers and they capitalized the other way. That’s what kept us in our own end, and we couldn’t create offense. We did it to ourselves. But we learned from it. It was a big win, and we’ll move on.”
The Blackhawks are now 4-1-1 on the season and have nine points as they prepare to take on another Central Division rival, the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in St. Louis. The Blues are 4-2-0 through their first six games and trail the Blackhawks by one point entering play on Sunday.
The Blackhawks have struggled to score early in their last two games, something that they had huge success with in the first four games of the season. Coach Quenneville is hoping that the return of Nick Schmaltz on Wednesday night against the Blues will help get the Hawks’ offense clicking early and often again. Schmaltz’s speed is an undeniable weapon that the Blackhawks have been missing.
“We’ll get [Nick] Schmaltz back and have some consistent lines and more predictive line-mates, which is something that maybe will help push one another the right way and we will get more consistency and more speed in our game.” — Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on the offense in the past two games
The Blackhawks have won five straight regular season games against the Predators with Saturday night’s win at the United Center.
Three Starts of the Game
3. Patrick Sharp (1 Goal)
– Sharp tied the game with about five and a half minutes to play in the third period and sent the game into overtime with his backhand shot that beat Nashville Goaltender Pekka Rinne.
2. Corey Crawford (37 Saves)
– Crawford kept the Blackhawks alive in a game where they were heavily out-shot and even out-played for most of the night by stopping 37 of 38 Predators shots.
1. Brandon Saad (1 Goal)
– Saad scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season on Saturday night to give the Blackhawks two points when he delivered his fourth game winning goal on the season, already matching his total from all of last season.