Not As Easy: Blackhawks Hammer Rinne, Predators

The last time the Blackhawks faced the Predators was one of the worst performances Chicago has put forward in the last decade. Grossly outshot and outskated during the game, Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne said it was one of the “easiest” shutouts of his career.

The Blackhawks took his comments to heart.

And this time, Chicago brought it early and often.

When the dust settled after 60 minutes of hockey, the only Chicago forwards without a point were Zack Smith and Ryan Carpenter.

Chicago’s defensemen scored twice. Alex Nylander scored twice. And the Blackhawks handed the Preds a crushing 7-2 loss that saw fans leaving to enjoy their Saturday night in Nashville well before the final horn sounded.

The last time the two teams met Chicago looked slow and unmotivated. This time they came out flying. The Hawks skated with the Preds up and down the ice in the first period, pushing the pace and turning the game into a track meet as they have been doing with good success lately. Erik Gustafsson got Chicago on the board with his second of the year at 6:33 into the first.

Jonathan Toews picked up the only assist on the Gustafsson goal.

At 18:04 into the first Dominik Kubalik found himself in the right place at the right time and extended Chicago’s lead to two.

At the end of the first period the Blackhawks were getting out-shot 12-9 but were up 2-0 on the scoreboard.

Less than two minutes into the second period Brent Seabrook flipped a backhand shot past Rinne from about 30 feet out.

Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome were credited with the assists on Seabrook’s second of the season.

Chicago kept the pressure on. David Kampf unloaded on a one-timer at 11:39 for his fourth of the year, the fourth of the night for the Blackhawks.

Olli Maatta and Andrew Shaw picked up the assists this time and Rinne’s night was over. Nashville made a change in net after Rinne allowed four goals against just 14 shots in 31 minutes and change.

So much for “easy.”

The Hawks were getting out-shot 26-17 through 40 minutes and had only one power play but were up 4-0. Brandon Saad went to the box with 25 seconds remaining in the second period but Nashville couldn’t convert late in the second or in the opening moments of the third.

Robin Lehner continued to play excellent hockey, making big stops throughout the first two periods. His rebound control wasn’t perfect but his save percentage was, and that’s what ultimately matters.

Roman Josi scored Nashville’s first goal of the night 3:40 into the third. Glimmer of hope?

Nope.

Chicago scored the next three goals.

Kane, who spoke about remembering Rinne’s comments before the game, scored his ninth of the season at 9:09 into the third.

Then Nylander scored for the first time in 15 games, his third of the year.

After waiting 15 games to score, Nylander waited only 3:26 to score again.

Josi added a garbage time goal to make the final score 7-2.

Now the fun part: individual performances.

Toews skated only 14:34 but won 11 of 14 faceoffs. He had two assists and one blocked shot. He wasn’t credited with a shot on net.

Kane skated 17:51 with one goal and one assist. He was credited with two shots on net.

Nylander scored twice in 14:05. Saad had two assists in 14:37.

Smith, one of the two forward without a point, led Chicago forwards with three shots on net.

Connor Murphy returned from injury to skate 19:35 with three blocked shots. He played a good, strong game that also included two takeaways.

Gustafsson and Duncan Keith were the only defensemen who skated more than 20 minutes.

Seabrook led Chicago with four shots on net in 19:55. He also blocked three shots and had a very good night.

Lehner’s night ended with 39 saves against 41 shots. It wasn’t easy, but he earned a solid victory.

Chicago is now 4-0-1 in their last five games and return for a home test against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

27 thoughts on “Not As Easy: Blackhawks Hammer Rinne, Predators

  1. I think we can all agree,that is what it is supposed to look like!What a joy it is when your team plays a solid 60 minutes of Hockey with no floaters or passengers on the ice.Backchecking,forechecking,shot blocking by everyone tonight.Urgency and hard play all over the place.Nice job Hawks!

  2. Survived the early big rush, with the Preds heavy forecheck, responded with a couple of goals and played like a confident team the rest of the way, even when Preds putting pressure on.

    Can only think of boxing terms to describe it, counter punched, rope a dope, if the right one don’t get you the left one will. These last few games are good teams with their top goalies playing, legitimate victories.

    Host 3 east teams then finish of the month with home and home against Stars and back to back home and home against Avs.

  3. Seabrook +5
    Love Lehner. Love Lehner. Love Lehner.
    Murphy looks great defensively.
    Nylander gets 2 goals in the third period that should get him going offensively.
    Also deHaan is a legitimate #3 defenseman in this league. What a solid solid defenseman pretty much every night.

    Hard to imagine this team might be this team has a chance to be 9-7-4 at the 20 game mark. It will not be easy but if we can limit Eichel to perimeter chances it’s possible.

  4. Goaltending outstanding again. Shaw with a solid, blue collar and disciplined game. That line was brilliant all night. I’ve been Kampf’s harshest critic, he has improved leaps and bounds. He shouldn’t be anywhere near the top two lines, and his faceoffs are still erratic; however, he is finally playing like an NHL forward.

    Imagine if the coach had Kane Debrincat and Strome together the whole season instead of lines mumbo jumbo or “the lines don’t matter”. Ignorant, inexperienced dense coaching until that change was made, which cost the Hawks a lot of points.

    Let’s just hope they keep winning.

  5. Hot damn & hallelujah that was FUN!
    Passes were tape to tape ; the foot was on the proverbual bas the while 60 minutes.
    The Dach steal and subsequent Kubalik goal was my favorite.
    Lehner is a BEAST.

  6. The Kampf goal was a terrific play – thought that line was really good tonight. Nylander had a great screen on the first goal and was positionally solid all night – no bad stick handling turnovers either. Exciting to think about the contribution he and Dach can make.

  7. It isn’t fair that other teams have to face this Hawks goal tending duo. Remarkable. If Lehner keeps playing like this, the Hawks have to pay him whatever he wants next year. We’ll forgive tonight’s second goal.

    I have not been sold on Nylander and still am not, but am hopeful that tonight kick starts his talent. It’s his brain I don’t trust.

    Where has this Rinne been all these years? Need more of this.

    When this game started out and the SOG was 6-0 Preds, with Lehner making great saves, it did not feel like tonight was going to have a positive outcome. The Kampf goal and the Kubalik goal were the most fun. Someone above was complaining about Kampf at the dot, but he is 50.3%. Strome is 42.7%.

    A comment above was lambasting Colliton for not having Kane, Strome, DeBrincat together earlier in the season. But he adjusted. He gets credit for that.

    If Lehner lets a couple of those go in early in the game, this game probably changes dramatically, but he didn’t because he is a stud. A huge stud and a bargain at $5 mil so far.

  8. Iceman – you’re taking Colliton’s quote regarding “lines don’t matter” out of context.

    Passing passing passing. For the Hawks especially – it usually comes down to how well they pass. Tonight their passing was excellent all game long – maybe as good as it’s been all season. The passing allowed them to exit the d-zone with a higher rate of efficiency than we normally see, as well as made it possible to carry the puck into the o-zone with space and numbers to make good scoring chances.

    The Preds got 41 shots on net. It didn’t seem like they got that many because it seemed the Hawks had the puck quite a bit. So, yeah, 41 SOG is not good, but they only allowed 2 goals and it seemed like they played a pretty good defensive game – didn’t it?

    Anyway – big 2 points and even more important – big time turnaround from the last time the Hawks played Nashville.

  9. EB early in the first 7 or 8 minutes Preds were looking like the faster team, out shooting the Blackhawks 6 0. Having all kinds of trouble getting ouf of their own end, then with Lehner standing on his head they survived that and scored a goal. Just seemed to grow in confidence after that, clean passes, better puck management, which looked at first would br achilles heel again, confidence showed in their play through center ice, which makes playing in the other 2 zones easier when that happens. Just got stronger as game went on.

  10. Confidence and passing. The two go hand in hand.

    Dach looks like he was the right pick. I wasn’t happy with it because I thought his foot speed was an issue, it isn’t. I thought he should have gone back, but he’s proving his salt

    Strome now has the same point total as Schmaltz in 2 fewer games.

    Murphy is not a bottom pair D.

    Maatta for Kahun was a win. He’d be easy to move if they need cap space.

    Looks like they’ve finally figured out lines. Keep em rollin

  11. Nice game to watch..
    Pekarina shut up and sit down….
    The little things are starting to add up.
    Winning the board battles.
    Players getting to open space.
    Defense starting to clear the puck.
    Can not say enough about the goaltending, best tandem in the NHL

  12. Huttons turn to start for Sabres tonight, Eichel on fire as Craig memtioned. Dahlin benched last night only 11:56 ice time, watch his response. Joki returns.

    Crawford starter almost a given, Cagguila likely still out so same fwd. lines. Koekkoek only skater possibly in for a dmam, maybe Murphy to ease him back.

  13. Serious payback in Nashville. It was a rough start, but Lehner kept the door shut to a buzzing early Preds push. Gus goal clearly deflated Preds, but really it was Lehner thwarting Preds all night. I thought that Murphy played great considering it was his first game back. Duncan Keith looks re-charged. Hawks team D better overall along with zone clears, but it all goes back to the guy between the pipes. Crow and Lehner have just been incredible, and that high level of play has allowed the Hawks to push more players forward offensively and pressure opposing teams. Yes more goals scored is the net result.

    Rinne flub of Seabrook floating backhander had me in stitches.

    Passing seems more crisp since “the change”. Line combos clicking. Hawks just look more confident and focused. Not sure why it took JC so long to put Kane in with Strome and Dcat, but all important is he finally did it. Kampf actually scoring goals? More please. Kubalik and Dach getting some nice chemistry. I like Kubalik strength on his skates with the puck and he gets to open areas for scoring chances. Dach is going to be a good one. Sure he got dumped again hard late in the 3rd, but just got back up quick and goes for it. Mental toughness and compete in that kid. He will put on some muscle, and make it more difficult for defenders as he matures. While I liked Nick Schmaltz for his offensive talents and crazy good hands, he shied away from contact too often. While Kane is not a physical player he does not avoid tough areas. Same with Dach and little Dcat too. How about that Dcat check sidestep followed by a thread the needle pass to set up Kaner?

    Carpenter really fitting in nicely, de Haan too. Nylander when he stays focused clearly shows he has serious offensive skills and a quick release shot. He just needs give a damn attitude every shift.

    Happy to see Hawks having some fun out there. Funny what winning does for attitude. As long as goaltending stays strong Hawks can play run and gun fun to watch hockey. Keep it rolling tonight boys!

    Let’s Go Hawks!!

  14. Big takeaway for me was the passing. Incredible tonight. And I agree, confidence leads to this kind of play. The team looks like it is starting to gel and work together. Chemistry is so hard to develop sometimes but when it does the talent we all know is present with this squad can really shine. Gotta keep it going tonight. Pick up another 2 points tonight and suddenly we’re back in the race.

  15. Skating Hard… Passing good and scoring Goals while keeping puck outta your own net… WOW what a formula….. Sad Seabrook still playing… Cement shoe zamboni man always making snow angels on the ice… Lerner doing what Crow did for last 5-6 years and shun normal “fans” from noticing his skating ability.
    Sad Koekkoek sits for seabrooks contract.
    GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!
    ?

  16. Still giving up too many shots.

    Make Keith player coach. Things changed after he implicitly dissed JC.

    Finally line combos working.

  17. To all of the “finally a fun game to watch” folks – where have you been? They’ve been like this for the last 2+ weeks. High volume smoke-em-if-you-got-em up and down track meet style hockey. Great for TV ratings, awful for blood pressure.

  18. Interesting article about the Islanders. They are dead last in the league allowing the most time in their defensive zone. But it was pointed out, they’re still in control keeping everything to the outside. I don’t think that’s the case with the Hawks.

    I had a question on Versteeg. He and the Icehogs have agreed to mutually terminate the contract. It seems a hip injury has forced him to retire.

  19. Iceman, you can’t say that 12-17-88 doesn’t at least make you quiver a little bit going into the D zone. Between that and not knowing what Nylander was and Saad being meh since he came back, that’s why 12-17-88 were broken up.

  20. Things always seem worse than they are when things are going bad and they seem better than they are when things are going good. We’re in one of those good periods right now when optimism runs rampant. The fanatical swings sports fans – not surprising. So we enjoy it while it lasts until the sky falls down on us again when they have a bad game or two or three.

    I always expected this to be a transition year leading to one or two last bites at the apple of the T&K era and this is what’s playing out. The objective is to work in some young players so they are ready to be major contributors for a Cup run in a couple years and that is at least partially on track. My guess is the 2020/21 season will be a transition year too but it should be an improvement over this season, which should end up being an improvement over last season.

    So there will be highs and lows, but as long as we can look back at the end of the season and see progress was made – that’s the mission and I think we’re on track.

  21. Rusty – To your point, 12-17-88 still make me nervous in the d-zone especially on the road when they can’t control the matchups. It seems that both Vegas and Nashville played their top lines against them a lot. If we can win those matchups we should be in a very good position with our other line matchups.

  22. Granted the Hawks scored, but if another goalie was in net, the outcome would have been different. Lehner is a difference maker, Hawks gave up a TON of chances, so need.less.to say they still have work to be done on the D side….but at least when Lehner did give up second chances, Hawks were there to clear out the puck and not allow those 2nd chances…so good job on that. Hope to see a solid effort tonight vs buffalo.

  23. Unfortunately I had to miss the game – caught the highlights though and was thoroughly impressed with the passing as others have mentioned

    I was on the dump JC bandwagon not so long ago and although it’s still early I’m impressed with 1) the fact he changed his system and by all accounts after listening to the players and perhaps others and 2) despite the dumpster fire that was the early part of the Hawks season he has the team playing hard all over the ice – still lots of mistakes and too many SOG but playing hard is essential so kudos to him for pulling that off – I did doubt that it was possible

    If he can coax a reduction in SOG from this team without sacrificing the offence they will in fact be dangerous especially considering the goaltending they’re getting

    Really glad to see Murphy back

  24. Agree definitely going to be a roller coaster season. After a string against good teams a Sabres team struggling of late and not a cnsidered a playoff team, a letdown is something to avoid but good possibility tonight.

    When needing elite goaltending to be the anchor game in game out, they are going to beat teams they should lose to and lose to teams that you expect they should beat.

  25. People might not think same, the sch is a little better during the last so long. This is one of the reasons I wanted to wait to decide how good we really are, I wanted to see games 10-20. This is what win or tie in 6 of 7 games. This is also the first time we had a more normal sch, where the games are evenly spaced out and not the crap we had in first 10 or so games where it was, 2 in 11 days then 2 in 7 days then 5 in 7 then 5 days off. Now we’re finally in sch that has a rhythm to it.

    After the NAS game we sucked in, that was when the sch got more normal. People said the road trip would kill us and we get smoked if we did t show in LA and or ANA and coach gets canned stuff. I wasn’t happy about that as well.

    Well since Kaner got that goal where he celebrated big. I thought that might the start to the season sch wise and lines wise. It was.

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