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Blackhawks now have Preds by the jugular with OT win…

The Nashville Predators had no business being in this game from the very beginning.

So why does it hurt so much?

After only registering eight shots on goal through the first two periods, the Preds dropped what ended up being a heart breaker to the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 at United Center. With the win, the Hawks take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. They now have two opportunities to win one game to close out the series and advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Believe it or not, the Preds should have won this game. They had a 4-3 lead with less than 0:20 remaining in regulation before Martin Erat turned the puck over on the power play with a horrible pass. Patrick Kane scored the equalizer, forcing overtime, with under 0:14 left.

The good news was that Nashville would start the extra session on the power play as Marian Hossa was serving a major penalty for boarding the crap out of Dan Hamhuis behind the Predators net. The penalty looked eerily similar to the hit Alexander Ovechkin put on Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell back in March in which Ovechkin got suspended for two games. But Hossa was given only a five minute major as opposed to a game-misconduct, which he deserved.

To add insult to injury, once Hossa’s penalty expired, he rushed into the Nashville zone, planted himself at the side of the net and scored the overtime winner.

Fans that turned on the game in time for the third period got a whale of a hockey game. For those of us who watched the first two stanzas as well, saw an absolute train wreck of a hockey team. The Preds managed just four shots on goal in each of the first two frames and looked every bit as anemic as the Canadian media always accuses them of being. They generated nothing as far an attack, they outright refused to shoot the puck when given the opportunity, they made horrible decisions with (and without) the puck and they showed absolutely no chemistry with each other. Yet, somehow, they were in the game after two.

Chicago netminder Antti Niemi had his worst night of the series so far and Nashville still couldn’t capitalize with a win. he made just 17 saves on 21 Predators shots and didn’t look sharp at all but, as always, without forcing him to make saves on a regular basis, he was able to survive the contest and get the win.

You wouldn’t think so when you see “five goals allowed” but Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne played out of his mind in this one, much like he has all series long. Rinne made several amazing stops and incredible saves while keeping his team in the game. Unfortunately, once again, the Preds couldn’t tally a single power play goal and thus, was charged with the loss.

The Nashville man advantage is now 0-for-20 in this series.

If they even want a prayer of tying this series at three games a piece, they’ll need to remedy that horrendous stat.

Puck drops at 8:00pm Central at Bridgestone Arena on Monday night.

* This was the first game of the series that required extra time to decide a winner.
* Patric Hornqvist, the Predators leading goal scorer in the regular season (30 goals), was scratched for the fourth consecutive time.
* The shorthanded goal by Joel Ward in the second period was Nashville’s first special teams goal of the series.
* The Predators only had four shots on goal in the first period and then only four more in the second.
* Deadline acquisition Denis Grebeshkov saw his first action since March 7. It was also his first career NHL playoff game and thus his two assists were his first career NHL playoff points.
* Because Grebeshkov was in the lineup, rookie blueliner Cody Franson was scratched.
* With the loss, the Predators have still never won a Game 5 in their history.
* Unfortunately, Nashville has never won a Game 6 in their history either.

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