Blackhawks lose barnburner game 82 to Preds 7-5
With third place in the Central sewn up no matter what happens with the Blues and Avalanche's final games, Coach Joel Quenneville opted to sit a number of regular players for an otherwise-meaningless game.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were already out for the game, but Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Krüger, and Michal Handzuš all were healthy scratches as well.
Ben Smith opened the scoring early for the Blackhawks, just 4:11 into the game. Marian Hossa would command his way into the Predators' zone before making an easy wraparound curl goal to make it 2-0.
It would take just 14 seconds after Hossa's goal for Nashville to break onto the scoresheet on a Craig Smith goal.
Quenneville took Hossa out of the game after the first intermission, once Hossa had scored his goal, his 30th of the season. According to post-game interviews, Quenneville told Hossa that is what he would do if he scored early.
Ryan Ellis would tie up the game 2-2, 6:32 into the second period. Matt Carey, recently signed by the Blackhawks, would get his first NHL goal several minutes later to pull Chicago into a 3-2 lead.
No lead remained safe, however; Matt Cullen tied the game once more 4:03 in the third to make it 3-3. Colin Wilson then gave the Preds their first lead of the game just three minutes later, making it 4-3.
Jeremy Morin make it a tie game for Chicago - again - making it 4-4 at the 8-minute mark in the third.
Paul Gaustad would give Nashville the go-ahead goal with 2:55 left in the game, making it 5-4. And again - the lead would not last. The Blackhawks pulled Antti Raanta, and Andrew Shaw tied the game at 5-5 with 1:35 remaining.
But the scoring was not done - at least not for the Predators. Patric Hornqvist put in Nashville's 6th of the night to make it 6-5, and then Shea Weber put home an empty-net goal to finalize the score at 7-5 with 14 seconds left on the clock.
The Blackhawks will face either the St. Louis Blues or the Colorado Avalanche starting Thursday night. Both division rivals were idle tonight; they both play their 82nd game on Sunday night, which will finalize the Central division seeding.