Due to this year’s schedule, tonight was already the last regular season matchup between the Blackhawks and the Predators, which is really disappointing, to say the least, because there’s no denying that games between these two teams are always fun. Tonight was certainly no different.
The two teams started the game trading chances but the game remained scoreless until the Predators got on the board first, when a line change and some lazy defense from Brandon Saad led to a 2-on-1 for Nashville, and Roman Josi sniped one past Corey Crawford.
The Predators doubled their lead toward the end of the first period. Just after a Nashville power play expired, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith were whacking away in front of the net, and one of Smith’s shot got past Crawford to make it 2-0 Preds. Nashville made it 3-0 in the second period, when an odd man rush led to a James Neal shot bouncing off of Johnny Oduya’s skate and into the net.
Brad Richards got the Blackhawks on the board after he shot a laser past Rinne off of a beautiful pass from Kris Versteeg. Andrew Shaw cut the Nashville lead to one, as he stuffed in a loose puck off of a Patrick Sharp shot to make it a 3-2 game. Marian Hossa scored on a bomb of a shot on a 4-on-3 and suddenly the game was tied.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. After a too many men penalty against the ‘Hawks, James Neal scored on a rebound just seven seconds into the Nashville power play. Despite some nice chances, including some on the power play, the Predators remained ahead by one goal.
With the net empty, Bryan Bickell put a rebound in past Rinne to again tie the game 4-4 with just 73 second remaining in the game. The 'Hawks had some great chances in OT, but couldn't get one past Rinne. Jonathan Toews scored in the shootout and Crawford made the stops to give the 'Hawks the extra point and extend their lead in the Central Division to three points.
The 'Hawks now head outdoors to take on the Washington Capitals in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day! That will take place on Thursday at Noon CT on NBC.
Three Stars of the Game
- Bryan Bickell: scored the late game-tying goal and had an assist in a strong game.
- PB&K Line: 1 goal, 2 assists for the line. Didn't miss a beat in Brad Richards' return to the lineup.
3. Patrick Sharp
In his 700th career game, Sharp got his 500th point on Andrew Shaw's goal in the second period. Despite starting the game on the "fourth" line and being bounced around the line-up all night, Sharp continued his strong play since returning from injury.
2. Duncan Keith
3 assists on the night and almost 33 minutes of ice time. He's going to be an All-Star and with good reason, because Keith continues to play some fantastic hockey.
1. Andrew Shaw
Shaw has been pretty quiet recently, including a 13 game goalless drought. But he got off the schneid tonight with a nice gritty goal to cut the Nashville lead to one and give the 'Hawks some energy. He also had 5 shots on goal and was really noticeable all night. Hopefully a performance like this will kickstart him and he can string together some productive games.