Smith Scores 100th Goal, Preds Beat Blackhawks

Craig Smith’s 100th career goal proved to be the game-winner as the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a 2-1 final on Friday night at the United Center.

The win is Nashville’s fifth of the season and gives them three out of a possible four points in Chicago this season.

After a first period that saw Nashville outshot 21-7 and allow a shorthanded goal to Chicago, Calle Jarnkrok and Craig Smith gave the Preds a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes, a lead they never relinquished.

“Sometimes you’re going to have a period or shift or whatever that you’re not going to like, but it’s about making the adjustments, stepping up and making the big plays when the time is right,” Smith said. “I thought we did that, we executed well and a win’s a win.”

Perhaps the biggest reason for Nashville’s two points on Friday night was the man stopping the pucks. Pekka Rinne turned aside 43 shots in total, including 20 in the first period, to keep his team in it as he tends to do night after night.

“He gave us a chance,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “It could have been over, it could have been long gone by the end of the first period and it wasn’t. We were still hanging in there. We got going and were able to generate some chances, some goals in the second period and get on the scoreboard.”

No. 100 was worth two huge points.

The Preds winger, who has skated all 447 games of his career in Nashville, gave his club a 2-1 lead with a power-play marker in the second period, his second of the season.

One would be hard pressed to find a player who works harder or is in better shape on the Predators roster, and Smith’s perfectly placed wrist shot that beat Corey Crawford was a prime example of the skill he possesses.

“I’m so happy for him,” Rinne said of Smith. “He’s been here for a long time and been my teammate for a long time. We need all the scoring we can get, and Smitty is for sure one of those guys who has all the speed, the shot and the presence on the ice. I’m sure it feels good after this game too.”

The tally tied Smith for seventh on the franchise’s all-time goal-scoring list, becoming the eighth player in Preds history to reach the 100-goal milestone.

“I knew I was getting close, so it was cool,” Smith said of the milestone. “It’s a great play. [Colton Sissons] took the goalie’s eyes away for the most part and I just had to hit a window.”


Samuel Girard returned to the Nashville lineup on Friday night paired alongside Roman Josi. Girard skated 13:32 of time on ice.

Anthony Bitetto, Matt Irwin and Cody McLeod were healthy scratches for the Preds against the Blackhawks.

The Predators are right back at it on Saturday night, this time at home to host the New York Islanders; puck drop at Bridgestone Arena is set for 7 p.m. CT.