The Chicago Blackhawks completely tied up the Nashville Predator's offense and beat them 2-0 to even the series at one game each as the teams move on to Nashville for game three on Tuesday night.
Goals by Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane were all the offense that the Blackhawks needed. The Predators had scoring chances but never were able to get a puck past Antti Niemi.
Niemi got the shutout win as he stopped all 23 Predator shots. Pekka Rinne stopped 31 of 33 Hawk's shots in the loss.
Each team took seven penalties leading to more odd man situations as it was a rough and tumble game at bot ends of the rink.
The game started with the Predators looking completely out of sync. A minute into the game, Kevin Klien had a horrible turnover that Pekka Rinne had to corral. The Blackhawks were putting intense pressure on the Predators that intensified at 5:05 when the Preds were called for too many men on the ice. The Hawks got two shots on their power play but no goals.
The Predators went on the power play at 7:54 when Andrew Ladd was called for interference. The Preds had three shots to the Hawks one on their man advantage.
The red light went off indicating a Chicago goal around the eleven minute mark but the video indicated that the puck actually hit the crossbar. Less than a minute later, Kevin Klein turned the puck over and the Preds were saved by an early whistle on a puck that Rinne did not control and that ended up in the net.
The Preds went on the power play again at 13:29 when Marion Hossa was called on a senseless hooking violation in the neutral zone. The Preds managed a shot but still looked uncomfortable.
As dominant as the Predators looked in game one's third period, the Blackhawks looked equally dominant in the first period of game two. It was only by the favor of the hockey gods and a blown call by an official did the game remained scoreless at the end of the first period.
The Hawks out shot the Preds 13-5 and led in the Corsi numbers 20-10. The Preds only managed one shot at even strength and four on their two power plays. Chicago out hit Nashville 16-6 as they clogged up the neutral zone keeping the Preds on their heels for the entire period.
The first intermission did little to cool off the Hawks. The Hawks and Preds traded penalties but a tripping call against Jordin Tootoo at 8:02 quickly led to the Hawks first goal at 8:44 by Dave Bolland to give them a 1-0 lead.
At 10:19, Jerred Smithson was also called for tripping, setting up a key penalty kill situation for the Preds. At 7:53, Rinne made the save of the night on Marion Hossa that had to go to video review. Amazingly, the Hawks did not score on four shots.
The Preds entered the category of serial penalty producers for the third penalty in five minutes when Marty Erat was called for holding at 13:22. Amazingly, the Preds held the Hawks to a single shot and had a scoring chance of their own on a breakaway by Steve Sullivan.
At the end of two periods, the Predators were fortunate to be down by only a single goal just as it was in game one. The Hawks out shot the Preds 13-7 and led the Corsi by a much closer 22-20.
The Predators headed to the ice at the start of the third looking for a rerun of Friday night's game when they turned a 1-0 deficit into a victory. It was not in the cards as the Blackhawks took advantage of a two on one breakaway against Kevin Klein when Patrick Kane chose not to pass and blew the puck past Rinne to make it a 2-0 game at 4:18 in the period.
With the Preds showing no offensive ability, it felt as if it was "game, set, match" with most of the third period remaining.
The Predators went on the man advantage at 10:19 when Colin Wilson drew a tripping penalty from Duncan Keith as he was forechecking through the neutral zone. The Predators were unable to get off a shot.
At 13:45, Steve Sullivan and Kris Versteeg were sent to the penalty box for holding and unsportsmanlike penalties respectively to produce four on four hockey. Twenty-one seconds later, Shea Weber cross-checked Patrick Kane making it a four on three advantage for the Hawks. Nothing of substance resulted from the odd man situations.
As the game wound down, a game long chippyness on both sides deteriorated even more. At 17:32 a skirmish ensued with Francis Bouillon, Patrick Kane and Patric Sharp all in the box giving the Preds a four on three advantage. Rinne left the ice immediately after the face off to give the Preds an extra skater but they could not convert.
The Predators out shot the Hawks 11-7 in the third as they desperately tried to put shots on net.
The Preds also led the Corsi 16-12 in the final stanza.
Storylines From the Game
Predator's Offense Stymied by the Hawk's Defense...
The Blackhawks clearly were not happy with their performance in game one that allowed the Predators to totally dominate the final period. The Hawks changed line combinations and defensive parings and came out and played with fire and intensity that never allowed the Predators to participate offensively.
The Hawks used a combination of making it difficult to traverse the neutral zone and then collapsing down around the net leaving no space for the Predators to work. The Predators defensemen were left open at times but had no lanes to shoot through due to the traffic in the slot.
Excellent Goaltending at Both Ends of the Ice...
Antti Niemi got the shutout victory but Pekka Rinne may have played a better game in spite of giving up two goals in the loss. The Predator's porous defense left Rinne alone repeatedly to fend off numerous shots.
Niemi was not controlling his rebounds particularly well, but the Hawks were excellent at clearing anything that bounced off Niemi and the Preds had few second chances.
Playing with House Money...
As much as the Predators would have liked to have won game two, they were clearly playing with house money with an unexpected win in game one. The pressure was clearly on Chicago and they responded well as a team of their character and firepower should have.
Before the series started, players coaches and fans would have been thrilled to know that he Preds would return home with the series tied 1-1. The Preds will have a short memory of this game and will be prepared for game three in front of a lively home crowd on Tuesday night.
Notes... Patrick Hornqvist's "equipment problem" from game one evolved into a return of his "upper body injury" and he did not play. There is no word on when he may return... Dustin Boyd started in Hornqvist's place and played well, having several scoring chances... Ryan Suter fired ten times and was credited with six shots. The Hawks were not pressuring him much, giving him several opportunities... Actor Vince Vaughan was in attendance and appeared to be enjoying the game. Vaughan was in one of the great hockey scenes ever in the movie "Swingers" in the mid nineties.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass