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Preds Fall to Blackhawks in Overtime

Bridgestone Recap: Ryan Ellis Returns to Nashville Lineup as Predators Start Back-to-Back with Loss in Chicago

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten @PredsNHL / NashvillePredators.com

Predators fall to Blackhawks

NSH Recap: Ekholm scores lone goal in OT defeat

Mattias Ekholm scored the Predators lone goal while Pekka Rinne made 36 saves, but the Predators were edged by the Blackhawks, in overtime, 2-1

  • 05:02 •

Pekka Rinne was outstanding once more, but the goaltender's efforts weren't enough, as the Nashville Predators fell in overtime, 2-1, to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. 

The result gives the Preds a much-needed point in the standings, but the goal is two, and Nashville was only able to get one of their 43 shots past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford.

"At this time of the year, it's hard to get the points, and tonight we got one," Rinne said. "We have to move on. [We have a] game tomorrow right away, but I don't know, it's frustrating when you lose. I don't think it was a very good hockey game overall, just two teams afraid to lose the game."

"We're getting excellent goaltending, it's just the situations in front of him," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. "We get the power plays, [but then] we're taking the penalties on the power play, we don't produce, and then… you give those guys an opportunity on the power play. [Rinne is] doing the best he can. I mean, he played a heck of a game, and we've just got to be better in front of him." 

The scoreboard read 0-0 after the opening period, but the Predators were thankful to be in a tied hockey game. Rinne made the first eight saves of the contest and later stopped Brandon Saad on a breakaway and a subsequent penalty shot. It was the third penalty shot Rinne has denied this season and the 12th of his career.

Nashville also killed off the majority of two Hawks' power plays in the frame. The line of Craig Smith, Kyle Turris and Rocco Grimaldi generated most of the Predators' attack and time in the offensive zone, and got Nashville up to 10 shots prior to the conclusion of the first 20 minutes of the contest. 

The story of the second period was similar to the first: Rinne making saves on one end with the Preds' offense chipping away with shots on the counter attack. Nashville drew three penalties in the middle frame, including 1:13 of time on a 5-on-3 power play, but only saw their shot total rise as a result. The visitors put 20 shots on the Hawks' net in the middle period alone.

Finally, with 5:04 left in the second, Grimaldi found Mattias Ekholm off the rush, and the defenseman beat Crawford with a wrister for a 1-0 lead. 

Video: NSH@CHI: Ekholm wires home wist shot on the rush

The Hawks earned two more chances on the power play in the third period. After Rinne made two of his best saves of the season, the home team finally broke through with a point shot that deflected on its way into the net. 

The remaining 11 minutes of regulation was played evenly, with both goaltenders maintaining a 1-1 score until overtime.

"We had some quality looks, and that's the other thing, too, is we try to extend the lead and we didn't," Hynes said. "We weren't able to do that tonight… I think it was the special teams, and it wasn't as buttoned up as the game needs to be. Ultimately, it cost us."

Late in OT, Alex DeBrincat picked off a pass in his own end and beat Rinne on a breakaway to send the Hawks home happy and the Predators wanting more.

"It's a huge one point," Rinne said. "We're still right in it, and we're outside looking in, and we can still do it. But there's not a ton of room for error either."

The Predators won't have much time to stew about Friday's contest; the Columbus Blue Jackets are already in Nashville waiting for a Saturday night tilt at Bridgestone Arena - an outing that starts a five-game homestand for the Preds.

"A point is a point, but [Rinne] played unbelievable, and it would have been nice to get him some run support, but it didn't happen tonight," Preds Associate Captain Ryan Ellis said. "It's a tough way to lose the game, but I thought all in all we competed."

Video: NSH Recap: Ekholm scores lone goal in OT defeat

Notes: 

Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis returned to the lineup after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury. Yannick Weber was scratched as a result. 

Nick Bonino missed the contest due to illness. Colin Blackwell took his place in the lineup; his last game action was previously on Feb. 8 in Edmonton. Blackwell collected a secondary assist on the lone Nashville goal.

The Preds will complete their final back-to-back set of games of the month - and second in as many weekends - when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at 7 p.m. (click here to purchase from the limited remaining tickets). 

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