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Preds power play “outworked” as Chicago gets revenge

The last time these two teams met, the Nashville Predators blew the Chicago Blackhawks out of the building, outscoring them 7-2.

In front of 16,219 at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night, however, the Blackhawks got their revenge and beat the Preds 3-1.

Carter Hutton, the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, faced his old team for the first time and made 24 saves but fell to 7-4-1 on the season thanks to a lack of goal support at the other end of the ice.

“I can’t fault Carter on especially the two special teams goals at all,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “They didn’t have a lot of chances but they executed. I thought we mismanaged a few situations tonight that gave them enough momentum.”

Early in the game, the Blackhawks got things going when Duncan Keith fired a shot from the blueline. Mike Fisher appeared to screen Hutton as he went to block the shot and the puck slid past him and into the net for the 1-0 lead.

Nashville responded right away. Thanks to a face-off violation by Marcus Kruger just two seconds after the goal, the Preds went on the power play and cashed in when Shea Weber unloaded a cannon from just above the circle.

Before the teams would head to the locker room, however, Patrick Kane would score on an absolutely gorgeous backhander that he tucked under the crossbar to make it 2-1.

“That’s what he does,” Trotz said. “He’s one of those guys that says ‘I’m gonna stick this three-inch puck in that three-inch hole.’ And that’s it. That’s what he does.”

Hutton put the blame on himself.

“I kind of got on the post and Kane got it up in a hurry,” he said. “He’s a pretty skilled player but if I can make a big save there maybe that changes the game.”

Despite 17 shots on goal, Nashville trailed after 20 minutes. They knew they needed to keep the pressure on when they came out for the second. Instead, they mustered just four shots on goal and took two too many men penalties, giving the already dangerous Chicago attack more chances to put the game out of reach.

“We were putting pucks at the net at the beginning,” forward Matt Cullen said. “I’m sure they talked about tightening it up and they started to play a little bit better but it was more a matter of us making mistakes at inopportune times and giving them opportunities on the power play. ┬áThat’s enough to swing the momentum in a game.”

“To me, those are inexcusable penalties,” Trotz said about getting whistled twice for too many men. “If you’re replacing a person on the ice, you have to watch them and make sure he’s coming to the bench. He can’t be carrying the puck and then you jump on. Those are inexcusable.”

Chicago would extend their lead to two with Viktor Stalberg sitting in the box. Defenseman Nick Leddy pinched in from the point and put home a Brandon Saad rebound to make it 3-1 midway through the contest.

The Predators tried to use a Patrick Sharp double-minor for high-sticking late in the second to get something going but they just couldn’t get anything set up.

“I was really disappointed,” Trotz said. “We got outworked. Our power play got outworked by their penalty killers. That was our one window to get back in the game and we just didn’t make the difference.”

The Predators fall to 16-15-3 on the season as Chicago improves to an NHL-best 25-7-5.

“That’s a great team over there,” Cullen said. “You can’t afford to give them opportunities like we did.”

Nashville will try to get back to their winning ways against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Puck drops at 6:30pm Central.


MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 6:12 remaining in regulation):
1. Patrick Kane (CHI)
2. Duncan Keith (CHI)
3. Shea Weber (NSH)

1. Patrick Kane (CHI)
2. Duncan Keith (CHI)
3. Shea Weber (NSH)