Sunday, November 14, 2010

Predators Beat Blackhawks 4-3 in Shootout

Cal O'Reilly scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Nashville Predators a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a raucous sold out crowd at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night.

All three Predator goals were scored by defensemen, Shane O'Brien, Shea Weber and Cody Franson. Jack Skille scored two goals for Chicago and Viktor Stalberg had the other.

The arena had a feel of a playoff game as the rivalry between the Predators and Blackhawks continues to strengthen. The energy carried over to the ice where there was plenty of chippyness and bad blood throughout the contest.

Predator captain Shea Weber threw down the gauntlet late in the second period when Bryan Bicknell hit Patric Hornquist in the open ice and Weber received a double minor for roughing Bicknell, but a message was clearly sent to the Hawks that the Preds were not going to back down.

Later in the third period, Steve Sullivan appeared to best Dave Bolland in an unlikely scrap after a hard battle for the puck in the corner.

Barry Trotz commented on the excitement, " If you were a fan that was a fantastic game. Both teams came out really well."

The Predator special teams played a key role as the power play was one for three and the penalty kill was a perfect four for four including a key five on three denial late in the second period when the Preds had Francis Bouillon, Weber and Franson in the penalty box at the same time.

"The special teams were great tonight," Trotz said. "We got a lot of chances on special teams, we got a power play goal but the penalty kill was outstanding. One guy in particular that was outstanding was Jerred Smithson, that's a Predator right there. He was really good and gave us a chance."

Pekka Rinne still did not seem to be playing at his level from last season as all three Hawk goals were scored on the glove side which has traditionally been his strength. However, in the shootout he stopped shots from Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp to seal the win.

"Peks was fantastic in the shootout," Trotz explained. "I've seen Peks look a lot sharper than he was today. In the shootout at home, the referees come over and ask if you want o go first or second and Peks always says for them to go first because he wants the pressure."

Rinne gave credit to others for the shootout win, "When you have guys like Cal (O'Reilly) do their job, it makes it a lot easier."

In summary, Trotz said "I loved our resiliency, I loved our effort, we didn't have any passengers. The whole bench was pushing hard, playing real solid hockey. That's how we are going to win, plain and simple."

This was the Predators second win over the Blackhawks in two meetings so far this season. The Preds beat the Hawks 3-2 in Chicago on October 13 in a hard-fought comeback victory. The teams meet again on December 22 at the United Center.

The Predators will take Sunday off and practice at Centennial on Monday before heading out for four more road games with stops in Toronto, Montreal, Carolina and Columbus. The next home game will be on Thanksgiving Eve against the St. Louis Blues.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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