The Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 Saturday evening. The Preds rolled via a goal and an assist each from Kevin Klein and Sergei Kostitsyn.
The Chicago Blackhawks who had both of their goals scored by Marian Hossa, played just 24 hours earlier in the United Center when they defeated the Florida Panthers.
The Hawks entered the contest in 1st place, six points ahead of the 6th place Predators, but the Detroit Red Wings were hot on their heals heading into Saturday's action.
The Blackhawks had plenty of crowd support as they took the ice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville with about 40% of the 17,113 fans in attendance sporting the red sweater of Chicago. The competition of the respective fanbases gave the atmosphere a high school feel. The game would ultimately be decided on the ice.
Things started pretty well for the unrested Hawks. Marian Hossa received a pass from Andrew Shaw and went forehand to backhand to slide the puck past Pekka Rinne at 15:05 of the 1st period. If there was a question as to whether there were a healthy dose of Chicago fans in the building (which there should not have been), they were answered as Hossa put his team up 1-0. Things started to look up for Nashville as they quickly went on the power play after the Chicago goal. After an abysmal first attempt on the man-advantage, the second looked to be moving in the same direction. However, just before time ran out on the minor penalty, Ryan Ellis fired a shot from the point, and fellow rookie Craig Smith wristed the equalizer past Corey Crawford. Nashville had a bit of a scare later in the period when Viktor Stalberg backhanded a shot of the far post. The Preds might have been lucky to not be down a goal, but they had a few good chances themselves, outshooting the Hawks 7-2 in the first frame.
The Nashville Predators opened the 2nd period with a scoring chance by Colin Wilson on a deflection and a disallowed goal by Sergei Kostitsyn that would open up a wild offensive period for the Preds. Kevin Klein opened scoring in the period as he scored a goal on a typical wristshot from 96 feet out. Klein skipped the puck over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Crawford to break the tie. Colin Wilson provided some insurance with a wrister assisted by a no-look, backhand pass from David Legwand. Kostitsyn widened the gap to three with a highlight reel goal as he went one-on-one with Corey Crawford. The goal provided fans in attendance with a free Frosty and provided Crawford with a ballcap and a spot on the bench. Nashville had numerous other chances against both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery such as a Mike Fisher chance stopped by Brent Seabrook, a Roman Josi breakaway stoned by Emery, and a near breakaway from recently claimed Brandon Yip. The period silenced the Chicago contention and gave the Preds a 4-1 lead.
A quick goal from Chicago cut the lead back to two. Marrian Hossa slid the puck through the five-hole of Pekka Rinne on a breakaway and made it a game again. Chicago's momentum was short lived as Patric Hornqvist deflected a Kevin Klein shot past Emery. Both teams had chances throughout the remainder of the period, including a couple of shots off the post and crossbar by Chicago, but none could find the back of the net.
Hands went up and Hawks went home as Nashville earned a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks and Predators find themselves in 5th and 6th place respectively in the Western Conference, as Detroit takes the top spot in the West with a shootout win over the Blue Jackets, Nashville narrowed the gap between themselves and Chicago to four points with the win Saturday night.
Nashville is now set to host Columbus on Monday evening, and Chicago will head back home and await the Nashville Predators to head to the United Center for a rematch Tuesday night.