Celebrating his 37th birthday on Tuesday, Marian Hossa picked up where he left off on Sunday night.
Hossa’s struggles have been well documented – and complained about – but his hard work finally started paying off in the last two games. The Blackhawks’ star forward hadn’t registered a point in consecutive games since he had four points in a three game stretch Nov. 14-18, and he had only one assist in eight games before scoring twice against Colorado.
On Tuesday night, Hossa picked up two assists, both on goals by Andrew Shaw, as the Hawks pulled out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 33:18 against Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators. On Shaw’s second goal, Hossa physically removed Johansen from the puck and started an attack that concluded with Shaw tapping in an easy goal.
Mike Ribeiro got Nashville on the board only 18 seconds after Brent Seabrook scored Chicago’s third goal, but the story of the second period was Corey Crawford. He faced 20 shots in 20 minutes, stopping 19, in the middle frame. Many of the shots were through traffic or came from awkward angles, but he was on point once again.
Rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson picked up the second assist on Seabrook’s goal, giving him seven points in his first 14 NHL games. He was impressive throughout, something we’ve said about him nightly since he was recalled.
Richard Panik was, surprisingly, in the lineup as Artem Anisimov was a late scratch because of an illness. That bumped Teuvo Teravainen up to the center spot between Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin to open the game, with Panik making his Hawks debut on the line with Andrew Desjardins and Phillip Danault.
Panik, of course, has only been in the country since late this weekend. Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch. Again.
Speaking of first games, Johansen was playing his first Nashville-Chicago game as a member of the Preds and it didn’t go as well as he would have liked. He had his pocked picked by few Blackhawks, including Hossa to set up Shaw’s second goal and Panarin late in the third period. He also whiffed on a couple really good scoring opportunities.
The third period was a stalemate until there were 36 seconds remaining in regulation. Nashville’s 40th shot beat Crawford to pull the Preds within 3-2, but it also brought Seabrook out of the penalty box to make the skating even strength for the final half minute.
Jonathan Toews had an enormous night, skating 24:08 that included saving a late icing play and then clearing a rebound in the closing seconds to preserve the victory. Chicago’s captain won 18 of 28 faceoffs and was also credited with one hit in the victory.
Panik led the Hawks with four hits in only 6:56, while Seabrook’s three blocked shots were a team high. Shaw had a team-leading six shots on net, scoring his seventh and eighth goals of the season.
Chicago has now won eight straight, and will return to action in Montreal on Thursday night.
The win ties coach Joel Quenneville with legend Al Arbour for second all-time in wins as an NHL head coach. earlier on Tuesday, the Blackhawks announced a three-year extension with their head coach.
Let’s check in with St. Louis, where they lost their NFL franchise on Tuesday evening.
— Tab Bamford (@The1Tab) January 13, 2016