The Nashville Predators have only three regulation losses on the year through their first 12 games, and they have all been by way of the shutout.
Nashville was blanked by the high-powered Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night in front of the 17th consecutive sellout at Bridgestone Arena. The Blackhawks scored three times on Pekka Rinne and held the Predators to just 17 shots on goal en route to a 3-0 victory.
“They’re the best team in the league right now. They’re all fast. They all can skate. You could see that tonight. They’ve got a lot of skill, and their top guys can make a lot of plays. They’re a great team, but obviously tonight on home ice we’ve got to be better,” said Predators defenseman Jonathon Blum.
The Predators had trouble creating scoring chances on Sunday night. They were simply unable to beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, who is now 7-0-2 on the season, and didn’t create second opportunities to score.
“We’ve got to get traffic in front of the net. We’re making it too easy on teams by not generating second and third opportunities, and the goalies are seeing the first shot and making the easy saves. We have do a better job of getting more pucks to the net and people,” Blum said.
The formula for the Predators this season has been pretty simple so far. If they’ve scored at least one goal, they have come away with at least one point every time. Nashville’s problem is that they are being shut out with regularity. Sunday night marked the third time in 12 games that the Predators have been shut out.
“We know we’re a good team defensively, and we’ve got the best goalie in the league on our team, so any time we get two or three goals we’re confident that we can put teams away. That’s what we’ve got to start doing is getting that first goal. We play well when we score that first goal,” Blum said.
Sunday’s game was Nashville’s third game in four nights. The Predators played Thursday night against Los Angeles at home, Saturday in Minnesota and then traveled back to Nashville to play the Blackhawks. Now, they’ll get a day off to rest their bodies and prepare for the week ahead.
“It’s tough. You’re playing every other day basically. Tonight was back-to-back with travel. It’s tough on the bodies, and we’ll get a nice day off tomorrow and regroup for Tuesday,” Blum said.
Nashville will play their next three games at home, which gives them an opportunity to get settled and rested. It will be the longest home stretch they’ve had so far this season, and it gives the Predators an opportunity to collect vital points on home ice.
“We have to win our games at home. We seem to be getting points on the road, which is always a bonus, but we have to take care of our home ice. That’s how good teams make the playoffs and get high rankings,” Blum said.
Nashville will take on the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. The Predators have already beaten the Sharks once this season in a shootout at HP Pavilion. However, San Jose has proven to be one of the best teams in the NHL to start the season. The Predators will have their work cut out for them.
“They’re very similar to Chicago. Good four lines, good defense and a good goalie,” Blum said. “We’ve got to be better in all three zones to beat them, and we’ll do that Tuesday.”