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Mully's Musings: at Chicago

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
It was, without question, the most entertaining game the Nashville Predators have played this season. But it was the Blackhawks who picked up the victory.


Chicago won 5-4 in overtime on Monday at United Center, with the Predators picking up a point as they start a five-game road trip. The wild game had a little bit of everything. The Blackhawks came back to tie the score three times, then took a 4-3 lead at 13:08 of the third. Nashville’s David Legwand scored with 5:11 to go in regulation, and the Predators killed off a Chicago power play in the final three minutes.

But then came overtime, when Viktor Stalberg scoring the game-winner.

The good news for Nashville is it competed at a high level and nearly picked up a huge win despite not having forwards Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn or Nick Spaling, who all sat out with injuries. The Predators were outstanding on the penalty kill, and even stopped Chicago on two, lengthy 5-on-3s.

The loss certainly hurt immediately after, but when the Preds take a big-picture approach, it won’t sting nearly as bad.

On to the musings…


THREE MUSINGS
Another quick start: Opposing teams may want to keep an eye on Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist. He scored 14 seconds into the game against Anaheim on Saturday. On Monday at Chicago, he scored 26 seconds into the game. Both times, it put the opponents on their heels from the start, although Chicago responded better than the Ducks. Nashville had never scored a goal in the first 30 seconds of play in consecutive games. The last team to do it was Philadelphia in Oct., 2002. The last player to achieve the feat was Pavel Bure, who did it with Vancouver in March, 1998. Hornqvist is feeling it right now, and Nashville will need him until the other forwards begin to filter back in.

Rookie shows confidence: Forward Ryan Thang was recalled from Milwaukee and made the short trip to Chicago. He had played in seven games with the Admirals, totaling five goals and one assist. From the start on Monday, Thang played confidently in his first NHL game. At 11:45 of the first, Thang showed his smarts and made a long pass to defenseman Francis Bouillon, who had just exited the penalty box. Bouillon had a breakaway but was stopped by Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Thang, who played 8:32, also got some ice time on the penalty kill unit.

Rinne not resting: Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne has started all 11 games this season and is performing at a high level. Monday wasn’t his best game – he stopped 30 of 35 shots – but he once again made several memorable saves, including one early in overtime that involved Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Rinne also picked up his second career NHL assist. It was the first by a Preds goaltender since Nov. 28, 2009 (Dan Ellis vs. Florida). Nashville certainly needs to ride Rinne for most of the season, but he will need a night off sooner rather than later. We’ll see when that is.


THREE STARS
F Patrick Kane, Chicago: 2 goals, 1 assists, +3 rating
F Patric Hornqvist, Nashville: 2 goals, 3 shots
F Patrick Sharp, Chicago: 2 assists, +3 rating, game-high 6 shots

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