Calle Jarnkrok scored with 1:51 remaining in regulation and the Nashville Predators completed a perfect 3-0-0 road trip by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks by a 3-1 final on Thursday night at the United Center.
The victory was No. 30 on the season for Nashville and gives the club 71 points overall. The Preds also extended their franchise record for consecutive road games with at least a point, having done so in the last 10 contests away from home (8-0-2 record).
The win was also the first for the Predators in Chicago since March of 2014, a stretch of seven games, including the postseason. That fact made Thursday’s triumph a bit sweeter.
“Anytime you beat Chicago, it’s a good win,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’re a good hockey team. Year after year, they’re pressing in the playoffs, they’re pressing for their division, so it’s never an easy thing coming in here and our guys played really hard tonight. We seemed to get better as the game went on, our third was our smartest period and our best period, just defensively and methodically, just taking care of the minutes and eventually, we were able to chip one in. it was a huge goal at the end.”
Pekka Rinne made 13 saves in the first period, including two stellar stops on Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews, to keep the game scoreless, but Brent Seabrook gave Chicago a 1-0 lead at 5:27 of the middle frame.
Nashville got it back, as Viktor Arvidsson tallied his seventh of the season less than four minutes later, when he crashed the net and chipped a Mike Fisher rebound over an outstretched Corey Crawford to even the score. Rinne then stopped Andrew Shaw on a breakaway as the second period ticked away, a moment that Laviolette called a turning point in the game.
The score remained stagnant until the 18:09 mark of the final frame, when Jarnkrok one-timed a Fisher feed over Crawford for the first Preds lead of the night. Miikka Salomaki then iced it with an empty netter before the night was done.
“Calle, huge goal,” Rinne said. “Only 1:50 left to go and it was nice to see that go in, and then obviously [Salomaki] putting in the empty netter… He just took a risk and just fired it down the ice and that was a big goal.”
“Huge goal; really nice shot too,” defenseman Roman Josi said of Jarnkrok’s tally. “And Pekka was our best player tonight. He played unreal, especially in the first. He made a lot of great saves and we definitely needed him tonight.”
Another night, another two points on the road. At least that’s the way things have gone of late for the Preds, who extended their streak to 10 games with at least one point in an opponent’s building. On this occasion in Chicago, Nashville stuck with their game plan, and it worked.
“We knew how dangerous they are on the attack, so our plan was to play well defensively,” Roman Josi said. “We knew we were going to get our chances if we played defensively.”
The Preds not only got those chances, but capitalized when it mattered most, as Calle Jarnkrok scored the winner late in the third, improving the club’s road record and adding yet another boost of confidence to a Nashville team that is 8-0-2 in their last 10 away from home.
“I think we’re getting some confidence all the time,” Pekka Rinne said. “We’ve been playing good hockey and just getting points. Tonight, I thought just the way we struck with it and played a really strong third period; sometimes we’ve had slow starts, but the third periods have been strong for us and that’s a good sign.”
“It was a great road trip,” Josi said. “Three wins and we’ve been playing well on the road for a while now and had a lot of good road games. Coming back home now, and we want to play the same way at home.”
Gif of the Game:
Pekka Rinne stays with Andrew Shaw with the Hawks skater on a breakaway and denies a late-period goal.
Pekka Rinne on getting a win in Chicago:
“I was fortunate to have a couple big saves in the early going and after that, you feel good about yourself and feel good about your game. It was a strong game by all of us and it was obviously a big win against the division rival.
Preds Captain Shea Weber missed his second consecutive game on Thursday against the Blackhawks and remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Pekka Rinne is 3-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage in his last four starts.
Nashville returns home to host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday afternoon at a special 2 p.m. start time, followed by the Preds and Blues Alumni Game. Dallas and New Jersey also roll through Nashville next week
Pekka Rinne's cool .974 save % finds itself front and center.
Infographic: Points in 10 Straight on the Road