After dominating for 40 minutes, the Blackhawks gave away a two-goal lead in the third period against Nashville on Monday night. Thankfully, they emerged with the second point in the shootout.
It’s almost becoming cliche, but Jonathan Toews’ performance against the Preds could be submitted as his tape for Hart Trophy consideration this season. Chicago’s captain assisted on Brandon Saad’s first period goal, won 17 of 22 faceoffs and was credited with seven takeaways on the night. Toews skated 24:12 in the game.
Toews’ ice time was increased because Dave Bolland didn’t return after the first period. He appeared to be injured blocking a shot in the first period and was limited to only only eight shifts. Bolland did win six of eight faceoffs and was credited with one hit before his early departure.
Bolland is reportedly day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Even without Bolland in the second, the Hawks extended their lead to two with Patrick Kane’s 19th goal of the season. When the first two periods ended, the Hawks had a 27-11 shot advantage.
Unfortunately, that dominance quickly faded in the third period. The Hawks struggled to clear the zone for almost two full minutes early in the third, and David Legwand poked a puck through Corey Crawford that he was trying to control. Less than four minutes later, Taylor Beck beat Crawford to tie the game.
A game that appeared to be completely controlled by the Hawks was now in question. Nashville controlled the third period, out-shooting the Hawks 15-9 and forcing overtime. The five extra minutes ended without a tally, and the game came to a finish in the skills competition.
And, of course, Michal Rozsival won the game for the Blackhawks in the shootout.
The Preds wouldn’t have had a chance to come back if Pekka Rinne hadn’t played a phenomenal first two periods. In the game, Rinne stopped 38 of 40 Chicago shots, many of which were in traffic. He has deserved a better outcome more than once this season, but once again a fantastic performance was wasted.
For the Hawks, Crawford stopped 25 of 27 shots and came up big in the shootout. After allowing the game-tying goal, he made a number of big saves late in the third period to keep the Blackhawks alive.
The Blackhawks are off until Thursday, when the St. Louis Blues visit the United Center. With the trade deadline on Wednesday, the next couple days could be very interesting around the Western Conference. The Blues will be joined in Chicago by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who they acquired from Calgary on Monday evening.