|Date of game: 10/23/2014
Recap: Nashville vs. Chicago
Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - James Neal registered his fifth career hat trick and the Nashville Predators beat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night.
Pekka Rinne turned away 30 shots for the Predators, who have picked up at least a point in each of their first seven games (5-0-2). It's the longest the team has gone without a regulation loss to open a season since starting the 2010-11 campaign with a 5-0-3 record.
"The biggest thing for us is we don't feel like we've played our best games yet," Neal said. "We're going to continue to get better and continue to work, and I think you've just seen the first little bit of the Predators."
Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw supplied the goals in Chicago's (4-1-1) first regulation loss of the season. Antti Raanta, making his second consecutive start in place of Corey Crawford (upper-body injury), stopped 24 shots.
Neal buried a rebound into an open net to complete the hat trick and give Nashville a 3-1 lead at 1:52 of the third period.
Shaw made a strong move to the net and knocked in his own rebound out of the air with 7:24 left, but he was robbed by the glove of Rinne with just over a minute remaining and Raanta pulled for an extra attacker.
"I liked the last 20 (minutes). It was our best (period) by a mile," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We got out of that first period 1-1, 1-0 with that late goal. I didn't like the goals we gave up in that they were preventable. They came at us hard and they get their turn in this building, but you get down by two and you put yourself in a tough spot."
Smith beat Rinne from the crease at 12:21 of the first period, and Chicago was poised to take the lead into the intermission. However, Neal beat Raanta on a wrist shot from the right circle with 48 seconds remaining.
Neal put the Predators ahead with 3:48 to play in the second period, scoring on a slap shot off a Brandon Saad turnover in the Chicago zone.Game Notes
Filip Forsberg had two assists for Nashville ... The Blackhawks defeated the
Predators 2-1 in overtime at Chicago last Saturday.