Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Posted: 9:46 PM Updated 10:50 PM
By Tracey Myers
NASHVILLE For nearly 50 minutes, the Chicago Blackhawks were outworking, outhustling and dominating the Nashville Predators, with a 2-0 lead to show for it.
But when the Predators pushed back in the final 10 minutes of regulation, a big two points for the Blackhawks turned into just one.
Tomas Kopecky and Viktor Stalberg scored, but the Predators came back with two in the third and Marcel Goc had the shootout winner in a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night.
Corey Crawfords shutout streak ended at 176 minutes, nine seconds. It was the longest such run since Tony Esposito went 192:29 from Jan. 16-30, 1972.
I could care less (about that), as long as we get two points, Crawford said. At least we came away with one, but I think we couldve had two there.
The Blackhawks looked set to collect two points and jump ahead of the Predators with what was a strong display of hockey through most of the game. They were controlling the action, seemingly winning every puck battle and spending tons of time in the Predators zone. But the Predators fired back in the third, outshooting the Blackhawks 13-7 in the frame and wrestling momentum away.
It was another game in which the Blackhawks struggled to hold on in the third period.
Its frustrating, captain Jonathan Toews said. I think a lot of guys played well, collectively we played well. We got big stops from Crow and big penalty kills. It just comes down to a couple little mistakes and its frustrating when those things dont go right for you.
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Crawford had recorded two consecutive shutouts entering this one. But Jerred Smithson ended his bid for a third 9:46 into the third period. The Predators fed off that momentum, and less than three minutes later Shea Webers shot from the blue line tied it 2-2.
We had them right where we wanted them, coach Joel Quenneville said. They got a little life on that (Smithson) goal, the building got loud, face off, bang-bang play and they got the (Weber) shot. We shouldve nailed it.
That was a good opportunity for us, Quenneville said. You know they were going to have their turn at some point in the game and they did.
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The Blackhawks couldnt get a shootout attempt past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who stopped 31 of 33 in the victory. Rinne also came up big with 1:26 remaining in overtime, when he stopped Patrick Sharps breakaway shot.
There was already an onus on Sunday nights rematch against the Predators. After the way Saturdays game ended, its that much greater now.
Obviously its a huge game, a big weekend for us, Quenneville said. The standings are still probably jumbled up. Itll be the same going into tomorrows game: a tight team playing a tight game. And you have to be ready to win that type of game where its a low scoring affair and a hard-working type of game gets rewarded.
Jake Dowell went off briefly in the first period after blocking a puck off his right leg. He finished the game.
John Scott, Nick Boynton and Ryan Johnson were once again scratches on Saturday night.
Quenneville said prior to Saturdays game that Marty Turco could possibly start Sunday.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.