RECAP: Matt Duchene lifts Predators over Blackhawks in shootout

Jan 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) skates the puck toward the net past Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Lucas Carlsson (46) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Duchene was the hero as the hometown Nashville Predators claimed a 2-1 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night.

Goaltender Juuse Saros made 29 saves, five of them in overtime, plus stopped all three shooters he faced in the skills contest for the Predators.

Nashville blew a third-period lead but recovered to claim a second straight extra-time win over the Blackhawks. Saros also had some luck on his side in overtime when Mattias Janmark’s shot banked off a defender and hit the post.

Duchene, who skated in his 800th career regular season game, was the lone marksman in to find the net in the shootout. Duchene faked a shot as he hit the slot and then slipped the puck to his backhand before depositing in into the cage for the winner. He also collected an assist in the affair.

The Predators, who had lost three straight before meeting the Blackhawks on consecutive nights, claimed a 3-2 overtime affair on Tuesday.

After both clubs slumbered through the first two periods — they combined for only 10 shots on goal in a scoreless opening frame — Nashville’s Nick Cousins finally broke the scoreless deadlock at 5:24 of the third period. Chicago’s Connor Murphy lost an edge while he had the puck in the offside zone and then Calvin de Haan couldn’t find the handle when Duchene chipped it out of the zone, which sent Cousins away on a partial breakaway. Cousins netted his first of the season with a perfect shot.

However, Ryan Carpenter drew the Blackhawks even exactly four minutes later. Shortly after goaltender Kevin Lankinen made a couple of big saves on Nashville sniper Filip Forsberg to keep it a one-goal deficit, Chicago’s fourth line buzzed for a couple of chances and Carpenter chipped a rebound into the net for his first goal of the season. Rookie Brandon Hagel earned his first NHL point with an assist on the play.

Lankinen sparkled in net with a 41-save performance for the Blackhawks, who have three players on the COVID-19 protocol list — Lucas Wallmark, Alex DeBrincat and Adam Boqvist — on top being without captain Jonathan Toews, who is out indefinitely due to illness, and Kirby Dach.

–Field Level Media