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One more thing: Radulov continues to impress

Last night, everyone in attendance at Bridgestone Arena got to see just what kind of game-breaker Alexander Radulov is.

With the Predators trailing 4-2 early in the third period, Radulov took a pass from David Legwand, stickhandled through two Blackhawks defensemen and roofed a backhander top shelf. You could make an argument that it was the best goal a Predator has scored this season.

“It was a good play by the defense, Leggy tipped it a little bit on my way and I had [the puck] full speed,” said Radulov as he described the goal.

Despite it coming in a 5-4 loss at the hands of Chicago, it was Radulov’s second goal in as many nights and his third in six games. He now has six points overall since returning.

“He’s a little bit of a wild card,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said of Radulov. “Patrick Kane for them, very high skilled, talented guy, kind of guy that can make plays, make something out of nothing. Datsyuk in Detriot is that type of player, and we’ve got a guy like that in Rads.”

Upon Radulov’s return, Trotz has been impressed with how his game has grown as a whole.

“He manages the game way better than he did four years ago,” Trotz said recently, “and that’s the maturity of just time and understanding the game.”

Radulov logged 19:48 of ice-time last night, making it the fifth game of six that he has led all Predators forwards in minutes.

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This and That:

- The Predators knew they were going to get Chicago’s best effort… and they did, especially coming out of the gates. You could sense a lot of determination from the Blackhawks early on as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Even though they blew that lead they stopped the bleeding against the Preds, who had beaten the Blackhawks in four consecutive games including last Sunday’s 6-1 win in Chi-town.

- As expected, this game had a playoff intensity – more so than Friday’s game in Detroit. Patric Hornqvist got under the skin of Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford multiple times, while there was also plenty of back-and-forth jawing between the benches.

- Many gave this week the surname of ‘Hell Week’ for the Predators, as they faced off against their division rivals in four straight games. The Preds went 2-2 in the four games, which isn’t bad considering how they played the week before.

The two wins were of the statement variety in Detroit and Chicago; the Preds could very well play one of those two teams in the first round. The Preds also showed a lot of push back last night after falling behind 4-0. Overall, it was a week they can build on for this week when they close out the regular season.

- However, the loss to Chicago in regulation put a small dent in the Preds’ hopes of claiming the 4 seed in the West. With Detroit sitting one point back with one game in hand, the Preds no longer have full control of first-round home-ice. Chicago’s win also put them within one point of the Preds.

- Shea Weber has had single-game Norris Trophy-esque performances all season. Last night was another one of those performances. Weber scored twice and played great defense in 26:29 of ice-time. Many believe Weber’s biggest competition for the Norris is Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. It is hard to gauge who is the favorite right now, but Weber helped his cause against the Blackhawks.

- After giving up four goals I thought Pekka Rinne settled in and didn’t look rattled. He wasn’t sharp as the ‘Hawks took a 4-0 lead, but he kept the Predators in the game while they made their comeback.

- The atmosphere in Smashville definitely had a playoff feel to it. The Smashville 24/7 decibel meter reached 110 dB three times (see below) despite the droves of Blackhawks fans. On a side note, that may have been the most Blackhawks fans I’ve ever seen at Bridgestone Arena.

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Smashville 24/7 3 stars of the night:

1. Brent Seabrook, CHI (1 goal, 1 assist)
2. Shea Weber, NSH (2 goals)
3. Patrick Kane, CHI (1 goal, 1 assist)

Recaps around the blogosphere:

Preds On The Glass Inside Smashville Section 303
Puck Scene Hockey Night in Nashville On The Forecheck

Play of the game:

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Decibel Level Chart:
How loud was it in Smashville last night? Find out here…

Decibels (dB) Play
109 (dB) Preds come onto the ice
95 Ovation for Barry Trotz
101 Military salute
108 Martin Erat 2nd period goal
110 Shea Weber 2nd period goal
110 Alexander Radulov 3rd period goal
98 TV timeout ovation
111 Shea Weber 3rd period goal
 
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