Sunday, January 11, 2009

Predators Go Quietly in Chicago

Dave Bolland gets the game winner for the Blackhawks

Playing the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time in twenty four hours, the Nashville Predators went quietly into the Chicago night losing by a score of 3-1. Playing without Captain Jason Arnott and the resurrected Steve Sullivan the Predators returned to their recent ways and generated limited offense in the first game of a three game road swing that will carry them to Toronto and Montreal before returning home against the Thrashers on Saturday.

The Blackhawks scored first halfway through the opening period on a hard slap shot from near the blue line by Dustin Byfuglien that sailed by Dan Ellis. I wasn't sure why Ellis was unable to get a glove on it. Marty Erat responded a minute later for the Preds, tieing the game at one. The Predators had an oportunity to go ahead early in the second when Jordan Tootoo couldn't execute on a loose puck in front of an empty net. After that missed opportunity, Dave Bolland picked up a short rebound off of Ellis and flipped it in the net to make it 2-1. That was all the Hawks needed for the win. Martin Havlat added the exclamation point to the victory with an empty netter in the closing seconds. The game was very similar to the one on Saturday with opposite results.

The paring of Marty Erat and David Legwand continued to be productive. In addition to the goal Erat made with an assist from Leggy they each had scoring chances to tie the game in the third. The Preds were outshot by the Hawks 33-27 and suffered a rare loss in the face off circle converting only 41% of 51 chances. Dan Ellis played adequately in goal stopping several breakaways that resulted from defensive miscues in the third period.

After the game Predators Coach Barry Trotz stated, “Chicago had the better effort. They capitalized on their chances and we didn’t. Both teams had their chances though. The game might have been a bit different had Tootoo scored. The Blackhawks came right back the next play and took it to us.”

Hopefully this loss was a result of Chicago's good play and season long home ice advantage (they have a 13-2-4 home record which includes their Winter Classic loss to Detroit) and not a return to the Preds offensive drought. Steve Sullivan is expected to return on Tuesday in Toronto. Jason Arnott is listed as day to day and may also be ready to play. With four games left before the all-star break the Predators need all the points they can muster.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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