(Sports Network) - Three of Nashville's 10 remaining games are against the
Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks, making the task of the getting
into the playoffs all the more difficult for the Predators.
The Preds do get an early chance to steal some points from the Central
Division leaders as they open a home-and-home set with the Blackhawks on
Nashville has points in six of its last eight games, with a 4-2-2 record over
that span. The club is tied for 11th in the West and is four points back of
the eighth seed in the conference.
The Preds snapped a three-game slide with Tuesday's victory over the Colorado
Avalanche, but fell right back into the loss column on Thursday against the
visiting Columbus. The Blue Jackets got a tie-breaking goal from new
acquisition Marian Gaborik to hand the Predators a 3-1 defeat.
Kevin Klein posted the lone goal in the loss, while Pekka Rinne recorded 35
saves on the evening.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said his club just couldn't grab the momentum in
"The game's filled with peaks and valleys, momentum changes and all that,"
said Trotz, "but I thought it was a pretty hard-fought game. I thought both
teams played extremely hard. We didn't manage the puck as well as we needed
Predators center Mike Fisher returned after missing three consecutive contests
with a hand injury. He had logged five goals and four assists over an eight-
game point streak before getting hurt, but did not find the stat sheet on
Nashville's recent three-game slide included a shootout loss in Chicago on
Monday, with the Blackhawks winning 3-2 thanks to defenseman Michal Rozsival's
winner in the fifth round.
It was Chicago's third straight win over Nashville and it will host the
Predators again on Sunday.
The Blackhawks were unable to come away with another shootout victory on
Thursday, falling 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues. The teams combined for seven
goals in the tiebreaker, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa
all scoring for Chicago.
However, St. Louis answered each time and then got the winner from Kevin
Shattenkirk in the sixth round after new Blackhawk Michal Handzus had his
The Blues scored twice in the third period, but Viktor Stalberg forced
overtime on his seventh goal of the campaign with 4:31 left in regulation.
Corey Crawford ended with 19 saves.
"It's definitely not fun when you give up that many goals in the third
period," said Crawford. "We found a way to battle back, though, and we
definitely had some chances to win it. I just didn't feel that great in the
shootout. It was a weird game. I think we controlled most of it.
"The positive thing is we were able to battle back and get a point out of it."
Toews had a goal and an assist while Brandon Saad also scored for the Western
Conference-leading Blackhawks, who are 3-3-1 in their last seven and own a
comfortable lead atop the Central Division. However, they are just three
points up on the Anaheim Ducks for the first seed in the conference.
Hossa picked up the shootout goal after missing the previous six games with an
upper body injury, while forward Patrick Sharp sat out his 12th in a row with
a shoulder ailment as he inches closer to a return.
The Sports Network