Predators rally for 3-2 shootout victory over rival Blackhawks

Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 12:02am

Barry Trotz couldn’t speak for everyone who was inside Bridgestone Arena on Saturday. Not that he needed to.

The sellout crowd of 17,113 was in full throat at the opening faceoff and numerous other points throughout the contest. In between, the supporters for each side — both teams were well-represented — had reason to make themselves heard until the final word went to those who backed the Nashville Predators as they celebrated a come-from-behind 3-2 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, a division rival and the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

It was during the second intermission, though, that Trotz, the Predators’ coach, presumed to speak on behalf of everybody when he challenged his team’s determination.

“There were a lot of people here [Saturday] night questioning whether we were going to fight back or just lay over,” Trotz said. “… The second period, we didn’t look like we had enough push or didn’t want it enough. That’s not Predators’ hockey.

“I maybe, hopefully spoke for the fans. Maybe I spoke for myself. Maybe I spoke out of turn, but I don’t think I did.”

Nashville was outscored 2-0 and outshot 23-12 through the first 40 minutes of play. The Blackhawks scored once on the power play and another time on a shot from behind the goal line, and the Predators’ shot total was their lowest through the first two periods of any game this season.

It did not help that they were going against a goalie, Corey Crawford, who came in to the contest riding back-to-back shutouts and attempting to keep pace with one of the six offenses in the NHL that averages better than three goals per game.

The effort was better at the start of the third, but everything changed when Jerred Smithson scored with 10:14 to play.

“After the first goal the crowd kind of came to life and it was such a big boost for us,” goalie Pekka Rinne said. “After that, we got it going.”

The Predators tied it fewer than four minutes later when Smithson won a faceoff in the offensive end that — after two passes — resulted in a Shea Weber shot from the blue line that ended up in the net.

Nashville ultimately rang up more shots in the third period (13) than it had in the first two combined. Marcel Goc, the Predators’ first skater, was the only player for either side who converted in the shootout.

“We had them right where we wanted them,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Obviously, they got a little life off their goal and the building got loud. … They had a good third period. We should have nailed it. That was a good opportunity for us.

“You knew they were going to have their turn at some point — and they did.”

It turned out to be Nashville’s third victory of the season when trailing after two periods (that’s one more than all of last season) and it’s fourth shootout victory in five tries.

“We didn’t come out with a very good effort there, and they outworked us, out played us and outshot us through the first two periods,” Smithson said. “… But we’ve got a lot of heart in [this locker room]. We stayed positive. We knew it was going to take a big effort from everyone, and we found a way to get it done.”

Briefly

• Defenseman Shane O’Brien was suspended for two games Friday by the league office, which meant he would miss both games with the Blackhawks.

The ruling was handed down in regard to a high-sticking incident against Florida’s Stephen Weiss in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Panthers. According to league rules, O’Brien will forfeit $39,024.40 — the equivalent of two games’ salary.

He previously was suspended one game for high-sticking (Nov. 2009) while a member of the Vancouver Canucks.