A confident Nashville Predators team went into Chicago’s United Center with a rookie goalie that had never started an NHL game and came a way with a 3-2 win.
The Preds dominated the defending Stanley Cup champions in the final period to earn the victory. Joel Ward had the game winning goal on the power play with 27 seconds left on the clock to steal the victory.
The Preds looked a little shaky in the first period and somewhat passive in the second but came alive at both ends of the ice in the third.
Anders Lindback picked up his first NHL win while stopping 23 of 25 shots. At the other end of the ice, rookie Corey Crawford stood toe-to-toe with Lindback stopping 24 of 27 chances.
The Predators were 1-3 on the power play while the Hawks converted on their only man advantage.
The Blackhawks got on the board first at 4:48 in the opening period with a power play goal from Patrick Kane who beat Lindback high to the glove side. The man advantage was created when Ward hooked Kane as he was going to the net at 3:01.
The Predators first goal was teamwork at it’s finest. Ryan Suter broke a stick on a shot that was blocked. Cal O’Reilly dove for the puck and knocked it to Steve Sullivan who was in the slot and went high over Crawford to tie the game 1-1 at 6:37. The goal was scored even-strength, on the four-on-four after Shea Weber and Jonathan Toews were each called for interference at the 5:16 mark.
Chicago scored again at 16:58 when Tomas Kopecky fed a cross ice pass to Toews who put it past Lindback from the backdoor side before he was able to get in position.
Each team finished the first period with 10 shots on goal.
Most of the action in the second period occurred in the opening moments. The Legwand-Ward-Smithson line had a great chance to tie the game but couldn’t get the puck in the net from the crease. A couple of minutes later, the Hawks put a five shot barrage on Lindback in one shift but he held firm. Nashville Coach Barry Trotz had to call a timeout for the team to regroup.
The Hawks outshot Nashville 11-7 in the second period. The Predators did not create many chances and were accused of standing around watching Chicago by Brent Peterson during the intermission.
Trotz juggled his lines to start the third and it paid immediate dividends. A new line of J.P. Dumont, Marcel Goc, and Colin Wilson combined for a score at 4:43 when Wilson took a feed from Goc and buried his wrister from the slot to tie the game 2-2.
Through the middle part of the third, the Predators did a much better job of controlling the flow of the game and limiting the Hawks chances.
The Predators had two great scoring chances at 16:09 when Legwand hit the post, captured the rebound and fired again. The Predators held the Hawks to two shots in the period until Sharp was credited with a shot at 16:36.
Chicago committed a critical error at 17:47 when Nick Boynton was charged with delay of game for flipping the puck over the glass. The Predators converted on the power play when Dumont slid a pass across the front of the crease to Ward who put it into the empty side of the net to ice the victory with 27 seconds left in the game.
In the third period, the Preds dominated the shot count 10-4.
With the win, the Predators improved their record to 2-0 while the Hawks fell to 1-2-1 on the season.
The Predators left immediately after the game to return to Nashville where they will play the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.