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Predators vs. Blackhawks Plus/Minus: Nyquist, Power Play Both On Point

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Predators forward Gustav Nyquist
Photo of Gustav Nyquist by John Russell/Nashville Predators

For the third time this season and the first time since Oct. 24, Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard was held without a shot on goal as Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros picked up his second shutout of the season in a 3-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.

With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s a look at what went right and what didn’t in the Predators’ win against the Blackhawks Tuesday night.

(+) Gustav Nyquist continues breakout year

With his two-point night, Nyquist extended his point streak to six games. He also had a nine-game point streak from Nov. 9-Nov. 28, becoming the oldest player in Predators history (34) to have multiple point streaks of six games or longer in a season.

With nine goals and 29 points in 38 games, Nyquist is on pace for 19 goals and 63 points. It would mark a new career high in points and be just the second 60-point season of his career. It’d also be the most goals Nyquist has scored in a single season since 2018 with the Detroit Red Wings (22).

(+) Power play was surprisingly effective

The Predators went 2-for-4 on the man advantage and scored multiple power-play goals for the first time in 13 games. What’s perhaps more impressive is the way both goals were scored.

When Nyquist fired off his shot, all four Blackhawks defenders were in close proximity in the middle of the ice, leaving Filip Forsberg, Colton Sissons and Ryan O’Reilly all unguarded with plenty of space to shoot. Because of the threat of a pass to O’Reilly in the left corner or Sissons near the right face-off dot, Nyquist was able to fool Connor Murphy and Jarred Tinordi by flinging a wrist shot on goal that blew past goaltender Arvid Soderblom.

Nyquist goal

On O’Reilly’s goal, Chicago was down two players on the 5-on-3, which Nashville manipulated perfectly. With Jason Dickinson guarding Roman Josi out at the point, Sissons took Alex Vlasic out of the play with a screen in front of the crease, allowing Forsberg to sneak a cross-ice pass to O’Reilly, who was staring at an empty net at the top of the crease.

(-) Chicago played a more physical game

The Predators pride themselves on being a tough, gritty team to play against, but they got out-muscled and at points out-defended against Chicago. The Blackhawks, who average 19 hits per game to Nashville’s 22, out-hit the Predators 25 to 23, and they more than doubled them up in blocked shots 25 to 11 — almost surpassing their per game average for blocked shots by double digits (16.9). Nashville also got bested in takeaways (9 to 5) and penalty minutes (13 to 11).

(-) Too many wasted scoring chances

The Predators outshot the Blackhawks 36 to 21 and dominated in scoring chances 34 to 21 and high-danger scoring chances 14 to 2, but they didn’t score any even-strength goals (two on the power play, one empty-netter) and they whiffed on 13 high-danger chances.

Against a goalie like Soderblom, who ranks 68th in the league with a .770 high-danger save percentage, the Predators should have come away with at least one or two more goals in high-danger areas.

(+) Saros rebounds from disappointing stretch

Saros had lost three straight games and four of his last five starts, surrendering 18 goals in those four losses, including allowing five goals in three of them. Over that span, he had an .868 save percentage and 3.72 goals-against average.

But against Chicago, he rebounded with a 21-save shutout — his second of the season. The last time Saros hit a rough patch, he rebounded with a 34-save win against the Buffalo Sabres in which he allowed just one goal that sprung him on a 6-0 run where he compiled a ridiculous .953 save percentage. The Predators are hoping Tuesday’s win does the same.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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