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Predators even series behind special-teams' effort

4/18/2015

CHICAGO -- The final score in no way reflected it, but special teams mattered again in Game 2 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators.

The Blackhawks won at special teams in Game 1 and won the game.

"They're always going to be big," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "It was big for us the first game."

The Predators made it big for them in the second game. Before the Predators went off for three goals in the third period and put away the Blackhawks for a 6-2 win, Nashville held a one-goal lead thanks to its special teams.

The Blackhawks talked before the game about being more disciplined and staying out of the box after picking up six penalties in Game 1. Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg didn't follow those orders. He was called for charging 1 minute, 31 seconds into the first period.

The Predators made the Blackhawks pay for the mistake. Colin Wilson got possession of the puck in the right corner as Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya tried to play it near the boards. With Oduya not in his way, Wilson took the puck to the net and scored over Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford's shoulder.

The Predators later gift-wrapped an opportunity for the Blackhawks to even the special-0teams' tally in the second period when Paul Gaustad was given a double minor for high sticking when he drew blood from Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival.

The Blackhawks had been up and down on the power play all season, but they were coming off a game in which they scored two power-play goals to the Predators' one. Like in Game 1, the Blackhawks were able to create plenty of zone time on the four-minute power play, but this time they weren't able to find the inside of the net. The Predators clogged the shooting lanes and allowed two shots over the four minutes to arrive at goaltender Pekka Rinne. He saved one, and the other went off the crossbar.

"We had a couple decent looks; not enough sustained pressure, I think, on that four-minute power play," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Predators also fended off another power play in the second period when Seth Jones was called for slashing. In Game 1, the Predators gave up two power-play goals in the second period to allow the Blackhawks back into the game. By giving the Blackhawks six minutes of power-play time in the second period Friday, the Predators could have easily found themselves in a similar situation if their penalty kill didn't come through.

"It looked familiar from last game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We came out and took some penalties, and it could have swung the other way. The penalty killers did a great job in the first half of that period getting through that. That was difficult with [Gaustad] in the box because he's our main guy, one of our main guys. ... I thought it was one of the keys to the game to get through that point there."