Artem Anisimov has been able to stay hot even while the team around him has struggled to generate any offense.
Anisimov deflected home a Duncan Keith shot for a power play goal in the first period on Thursday night that gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in Nashville.
The goal, Anisimov’s 16th of the season, gave him seven in 11 games in December. He is now tied with Marian Hossa for the team lead in spite of a trip to IR.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the lead provided by Anisimov lasted only 35 seconds. Filip Forsberg tied the game moments after the ensuing faceoff, and the game stayed knotted at one through 40 minutes.
Corey Crawford stood on his head during an extended stretch of time in the second period that saw the Preds putting all of the pressure on him, but Pekka Rinne was up to the challenge on the other end as well.
Crawford made 24 saves through two periods, while Rinne only needed to make 15 for Nashville. Chicago was also credited with 12 blocked shots through 40 minutes, led by four from Tanner Kero.
Chicago had three empty power plays and one successful advantage in the first two periods, but were able to kill three Predators power plays through 40 minutes. But the penalty kill couldn’t stay perfect early in the third. Ryan Hartman went to the box 5:06 into the third and Nashville’s captain Mike Fisher scored his 10th of the season.
Crawford was able to get a penalty called on Craig Smith at 9:46 into the third and the Blackhawks (wait for it) scored another power play goal. And, again, it was a blast from the point getting tipped home by a body parked in front of the net (perhaps a good idea?) – this time Jonathan Toews did the dirty work off a Brent Seabrook shot.
Patrick Kane would give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead 3:44 after the Toews goal.
With an assist on Toews’ goal and his 11th goal of the season of the season, Patrick Kane reached 700 career regular season points.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 30, 2016
Nashville pulled Rinne with 85 seconds left in regulation but the Blackhawks held on for a big road victory. Crawford made 36 saves in the win and the offense in front of him woke up in time to earn two points in regulation.
Kane’s goal held up as the game-winner, giving him 47 career regular season GWGs. He now ranks fourth in franchise history in that stat, passing Denis Savard on Thursday night.
Kero and Niklas Hjalmarsson finished tied for the Hawks lead with four blocked shots each. Hjalmarsson and Hartman led Chicago with three hits each, while Toews won 10 of 22 faceoffs and blocked one shot with his sixth goal of the season. Kane was the only Chicago skater to have a multi-point evening.
Meanwhile, Minnesota won their 12th straight on Thursday night to stay one point behind the Hawks in the Central Division.
Chicago is at Carolina on Friday night.