The 2017 postseason ended in ugly fashion at the hands of the Nashville Predators.
In the first meeting of the 2017-18 regular season between the division rivals, the Hawks were looking for a little payback.
But over the first 54 minutes of action, it felt a lot like April at the United Center.
After 40 minutes, Nashville had a 1-0 lead after putting 30 shots on Corey Crawford. Filip Forsberg scored a power play goal at 18:16 to give the Predators that lead, but the story was Crawford. He stood on his head and kept his team in the game while a parade to the penalty box cost Chicago opportunities.
Brent Seabrook went to the box to give Nashville their fifth power play of the night only 24 seconds into the third but Chicago survived. That was the final advantage the visitors would get in the game; the Hawks killed four of five on the night.
The Blackhawks would get two power plays in the third and were able to generate enough momentum to finally beat Pekka Rinne. Patrick Sharp connected at 14:24 into the third to tie the game at one.
John Hayden and Cody Franson – skating in place of Connor Murphy – picked up the assists on the Sharp goal.
Chicago out-shot Nashville 12-8 in the third period and were able to salvage a point in regulation. The final regulation shot totals showed a 38-31 Nashville advantage, but Crawford continued to stand strong.
Nashville wouldn”t get a shot on net in three minutes of overtime. The Blackhawks got a few on Rinne in the extra hockey, and the other returning veteran who was missing in April came up big with the game-winner.
Brandon Saad’s sixth in as many games came with helpers from Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
Jonathan Toews failed to record a point but dominated at the dot. Chicago’s captain won 19 of 27 faceoffs as the Blackhawks were without Nick Schmaltz again. Artem Anisimov won seven of 13, Ryan Hartman won four of eight, Tanner Kero won five of eight and Tommy Wingels won three of five as Chicago had a good night at the dot.
Hayden finished the night tied with Lance Bouma for the team lead with three hits, adding an assist and one takeaway. Jan Rutta led Chicago with four blocked shots in 18:54 as he continues to impress nightly.
Crawford was rightfully named the game’s first star; he has now allowed one goal in four of his five starts. He is now 4-1-0 with a .960 save percentage and 1.39 goals against average to start the season.