Coming into Tuesday night's game against the Blackhawks, one thing was clear: something had to give. With the Predators suffereing a three-game losing streak and the Blackhawks carrying an eight-game losing streak of their own, both teams couldn't lose.
Fortunately for Nashville fans, the Predators were the team to snap the losing streak, and in the process overcame a less than perfect defensive effort to get back on the winning track.
The game started out ugly, with both teams getting in a war of penalties. First, Dave Bolland of the Blackhawks was called for hooking Colin Wilson at 2:18. Then, just one and one-half minutes later, Mike Fisher was called for hooking Chicago's Duncan Keith. And then a third penalty was called on Jonathan Toews for goaltender interference when he slid into Pekka Rinne as he was rushing the net, which resulted in a small scuffle (come one guys, don't you realize it's Valentine's Day?! Where's the love??).
Despite these early penalties, there was no scoring until later in the period. Ryan Suter put the Predators on the board first after a sweet set-up from Sergei Kostitsyn on a semi-break-away steal (goal scored at 18:20, assisted by Kostitsyn and Fisher).
Things were looking great for the Predators as they were on top...for 46 seconds. Bryan Bickell came right back and tied the game up for the Blackhawks less than a minute after Nashville took the lead.
The tie game would stand until the 17:21 mark of the second period, when Nick Spaling capitalized on a heads-up play by Colin Wilson to score Nashville's second goal. Wilson snuck in on the face-off, tipping the puck over to an open area on the ice where Spaling was left to work the rest of the magic.
At 6:05, Marian Hossa was able to tie the game up for the Blackhawks yet again with his 21st goal of the season, which was assisted by Duncan Keith. It was looking as if the Predators were going to give the game away with sloppy defensive play, but they managed to hang in and score one more goal.
Ryan Ellis scored what would become the game-winner for the Predators, when his shot deflected off another stick just before it got to the net, throwing Blackhawks goal tender Ray Emery off enough to where he couldn't even see the puck as it passed through the net.
Nashville and Chicago were both 0-3 on the power play during the game. Pekka Rinne had 30 saves on 32 attempts (.938%) while Ray Emery had 16 saves on 19 attempts (.842%).
This was the fourth matchup between the Predators and Blackhawks this season, with Nashville leading the season series 3-1 with Tuesday's victory. The two teams will meet again in Nashville on March 25 and in Chicago to close the season series out on March 31.
Nashville's next game is Friday in Detroit, the leader of the Western Conference.