By Patrick Norton
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Tonight’s tango with the Nashville Predators wasn’t going to be easy. Riddled with injuries, traveling overnight after playing yesterday, and forcing the goaltender to string together two games, the excuses were in place in the event of a loss. Anisimov returned to the second line after missing last night’s victory against the New York Islanders, but Nick Schmaltz remained sidelined for both ends of the back-to-back. In an attempt to keep the six game win streak and seven game road win streak alive, Quenneville rode with Crow and kept Jeff “Glove Of” Glass far, far away from the ice.
In typical Blackhawks fashion, the first period did not provide the start Chicago hoped for. A Michal Rozsival penalty aided the soaring shot total for Nashville and halfway through the opener, the Predators led the shot column, 10-1… but they didn’t lead the game. Jordin Tootoo fought Cody McLeod at center ice venturing to spark the Blackhawks. Later in the frame, Anthony Bitetto high-sticked Tootoo leading to Chicago’s first powerplay. While Filip Forsberg did a dandy job killing off the first thirty seconds, a quick regroup and a pass from Seabrook gave Patrick Kane an opening near the left circle. Kane ripped it past rookie goaltender Juuse Saros for the PPG. Heading into the second, the Hawks trailed in shots, 14-11, but led in the goal column, 1-0.
The Blackhawks seemingly removed their head from behinds to begin the second period. Out of the gate, the Blackhawks came out shooting. Saros held his crease well, though. The best efforts of Kane and Anisimov to double the lead were unsuccessful. Instead, it was Jordin F***ing Tootoo who shipped the puck into the back of the net for the Blackhawks’ second goal of the night. The two goal lead only lasted a measly minute-thirty as Viktor Arvidsson put on past Crawford to bring the Preds within one. After a few minutes of back-and-forth skating, Jonathan Toews tallied seconds into a powerplay on a rebound with Panik shielding Saros. But once again, we can’t have nice things and a Seabrook defensive blunder paired with a lack of hustle allowed Jarnkrok to score the second goal of the period for the Preds. After a one goal first, four combined tallies made for an exciting, but mighty frustrating second period of hockey. Luckily, the Blackhawks escaped to the second intermission with a lead, 3-2. Unfortunately, it could’ve been 3-1 or even 3-0. No bueno.
The third period started with a resounding Crawford chant. Doesn't get much more Nashville than that. Each team got their fair share of opportunities throughout the first few minutes of the period, but nobody could get anything through. Finally, Arvidsson had Crawford down early and tied it up from a horrible angle. Cue the Crawford chants after the soft, soft goal. It seemed inevitable after the defense seemingly went into a shell, but the style of goal had absolutely nothing to do with the defense. Crawford just went down too early, simple as that. Then, a whole lot of nothing. Finally with sixty-five seconds remaining, Brian Campbell jumped into the play and rifled a shot past Saros. Kane added an empty-netter for his second of the night and twenty-ninth of the season and that's all she wrote. Hawks win, 5-3. “Crawford” this, you dumbass Nashville fans