CHICAGO -- Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber missed more than half of Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks with an injury, but he wasn't exactly missed as the Predators rolled to a 6-2 victory Friday.
The Blackhawks left Nashville feeling they had failed to take advantage of Weber's absence. Coming into Sunday's Game 3, Chicago was out to put more pressure on the Predators' defense and really make Nashville feel the void left by Weber, one of the league's premier defensemen.
The Blackhawks accomplished just that. Chicago scored three of its four goals with the Predators' top defensive pairing of Roman Josi and Seth Jones on the ice Sunday en route to a 4-2 victory in Game 3 at the United Center.
The Blackhawks' top line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa played a large role in making things so trying for Josi, Jones and the entire Nashville lineup. Hossa set up Andrew Desjardins for Chicago's first goal. Hossa fed Toews for the second score. Saad scored off a rush for the third. Toews got the puck to Brent Seabrook for the fourth.
The top line's possession numbers were among the best for the game. Hossa led the way as a plus-7 Corsi (the Blackhawks attempted 16 shots to the Predators' nine when Hossa was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations). Toews was a plus-5 Corsi (15-10 shot advantage) and Saad was a plus-3 (16-13). Josi, meanwhile, was a minus-4 and Jones a minus-6. The pairing of Josi and Weber wasn't on the ice for an even-strength goal in the first two games.
"With the position we're in, we're playing against their top D pair," Saad said. "With Weber out, he's a great defenseman. We wanted to play better overall in general, whether he's playing or not. But him being out, he's a key player."
Hossa in particular looked like a player driven to make a difference Sunday. He was flying all over the ice, compiling two primary assists and a team-high six shots on net. He was certainly motivated after the Blackhawks' Game 2 loss, but said he also was well aware Weber wasn't playing.
"He's just a top defenseman in the league," Hossa said. "He's smart, strong, he's got long reach. Really no room to operate there, and when he's not there you try to take advantage of it, obviously, and that's what we did tonight."
Josi admitted Weber was missed, but believes the Predators could have overcome that if they had put away some of their own quality chances.
"Obviously Shea's a big presence," Josi said. "I think you're going to miss him on the back end. I thought we played a pretty good game. It could have gone the other way, too. We had a lot of chances."
It was basically the same message Predators coach Peter Laviolette had after the game.
"I thought we were pretty good, played a pretty good game defensively," Laviolette said. "There were times where I thought they controlled their offensive zone, our defensive zone. That's going to happen at times. I think you got to hang in there and play defense. I thought our guys did that. Certainly we would rather have Shea, but that's not an option, so I thought we did OK."