The Predators will attempt to avenge their Wednesday night loss to Chicago while the Blackhawks look to make it two straight over their Central Division rivals. Let’s handicap this Friday night clash and keep cashing our NHL picks!
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Friday, April 23, 2021 – 8:00 PM ET at United Center
Nashville had won their last six meetings against the Blackhawks but all good things must come to an end and so too did their recent domination over their Central division rivals. It took an overtime frame to get it done but Chicago’s Brandon Hagel deposited the winning goal with assists from Vinnie Hinostroza and Kirby Dach to clinch the 5-4 victory.
Nashville goaltender, Juuse Saros, had an uncharacteristically underwhelming performance allowing five goals on 30 shots, but in fairness, the Predators defense lapsed at the wrong times and were consistently outmuscled in their own end in the final period.
But the Preds’ offense was clicking as they launched 40 shots on Chicago netminder Malcolm Subban and scored on four occasions. Eeli Tolvanen knotted the game at one apiece in the opening period followed by second-period goals from Colton Sissons and Mikael Granlund. With only 58 seconds gone in the third period, Luke Kunin extended the Nashville lead to 4-1 and it appeared as though the Nashville freight train that routinely dominated the Blackhawks was rolling over them yet again. However, Chicago displayed a grittiness rarely seen from this year’s edition and roared back with three third-period tallies and then the game-winner in overtime.
Blackhawks Coming Off a Stunner
Chicago was an unlikely winner on Wednesday night after trailing by three goals in the third period. However, after Pius Suter notched his 13th goal of the season in the first period, the Chicago offense awoke from its slumber, and third-period goals by Wyatt Kalynuk, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Dominik Kubalik tied the game before Brandon Hagel roofed a wrist shot to seal the deal in overtime with his seventh of the season.
“That’s a comeback,” Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We put ourselves in a pretty big hole, stuck with it, never gave up.”
“I just wish there were fans here to see it,” said winning goalie Malcolm Subban. “An unbelievable overtime goal.”
The Blackhawks are teetering on the playoff precipice, occupying the sixth spot in the Central Division trailing No. 4 Nashville by three points and No. 5 Dallas by only a point. It was a sorely needed victory against a team that has owned them this season and they will need another one if they are to remain in the postseason conversation.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The NHL odds are revealing the Predators as anywhere between a -125 to -132 road favorite in this eighth and final regular-season meeting between these clubs. I find it a perfectly palatable price considering the Predators have dominated the Blackhawks this season with the lone exception being Wednesday night. And even if you look at that game it is easy to see that Nashville was resting on its laurels throughout much of the third period and a series of errors contributed greatly to Chicago’s comeback.
It wouldn’t shock me if Nashville coach, John Hynes, gave starting goalie, Juuse Saros, the night off. The 25-year-old native of Finland has played in 11 of the last 12 games and looked gassed in the late stages of Wednesday night’s loss. If that is the case, veteran Pekka Rinne will be tending the twine for the Predators. Although he is not the same stellar netminder as he was back in his glory days, he is certainly a capable replacement.
The bottom line here is that Chicago was fortunate to eke out the decision over Nashville and the fact they lost six straight to the Preds before that victory is no fluke. Nashville is a superior defensive team and I would take Pekka Rinne over either Chicago goaltender in a heartbeat which means I am unconcerned about who gets the start for the Preds tonight.
The only way Chicago wins this game tonight is if Nashville makes the same mistakes they made late in the game on Wednesday night and that is unlikely to happen. The price is tolerable on the road chalk here so let’s lay it and like it!
NHL Pick: Predators -125 at BetMGM