With Nashville and Chicago both looking for 3 straight wins Sunday evening at the United Center, one could only foresee a battle within the Central Division.
Even though Chris Mason of the Nashville Predators has received his fair share of disbelief from the fans, he certainly showed his talent tonight against a young Chicago Blackhawks team. Mason finally snapped his 7 game losing streak, hopefully earning a portion of respect back from Predator fans.
The Hawks outshot the Predators 32-19, but failed to convert their chances earning a 5-2 loss on home ice.
Legwand opened the scoring just 1:23 into the first period, with a wrist shot that slipped through Khabibulin's five hole. Nashville didn't stop there, as Radulov scored on the Power play at 3:21. Chicago's Robert Lang was set up by Patrick Kane on a beautiful pass, which brought the Hawks within one goal at 9:43 (5 on 3 PP goal), but Martin Erat put the Preds up 3-1 with a late wrister at 18:21.
Patrick Lalime was placed into the game at the start of the second period, as Nikolai Khabibulin seemed to struggle with the puck during the first twenty minutes. Lalime played very strong as the goaltender switch seemed to strengthen the Hawks, with Yanic Perreault scoring the only second period goal at 9:23.
The third period is where Nashville dominated the game. With the Blackhawks playing their second game in as many nights, the Predators took advantage of Chicago's sloppy play and fatigue. Jordan Tootoo scored at 4:20 with a slap shot that handcuffed Patrick Lalime, giving the Preds a 4-2 lead. With time winding down, the Hawks desperately tried to get back into the game. Pulling Lalime didn't help though, as Jason Arnott finished off the Hawks with a PP goal at 19:13.
The Predators and Blackhawks now have 7-7 records, which brings the Central Division even closer together. The Blues, Blackhawks and Predators all find themselves with 14 points. Detroit leads the Central with 23 points, followed by Columbus' 18 points.