On Tuesday night, the Blackhawks stayed hot and took care of business with a 3-1 win in Nashville.
Duncan Keith opened the scoring with a missile from the point, beating former Hawks farmhand Carter Hutton only 1:39 into the game. Unfortunately, Marcus Kruger was sent to the box for a faceoff violation before play could begin after the goal, and Shea Weber capitalized late in the ensuing power play to tie the game.
Keith’s goal got the Hawks off to a good start, but the rest of the opening 20 minutes was sloppy. Chicago allowed 17 shots on net and served three minor penalties in the period, successfully killing two.
The Hawks had one power play opportunity in the first period, and they made it count.
Patrick Kane scored his 20th of the season, depositing a ridiculous backhand shot past Hutton 38 seconds into the advantage. That goal would be enough for Antti Raanta, who had another strong night.
In the second period, the parade to the penalty box was all Predators, as Nashville was whistled for two too many men penalties and a Viktor Stalberg tripping penalty in the first 13:25 of the middle frame. Nick Leddy scored his fourth of the year on the second Preds penalty to put the Hawks up 3-1, and effectively closed the scoring for the night.
Raanta stood tall in the opening frame, and the skaters in front of him did a much better job in the final 40 minutes to preserve the victory. After making 16 saves against 17 shots in the first period, Raanta faced only 11 total shots – four in the second and seven in the third – the rest of the way.
In spite of allowing a goal on the Preds’ first power play of the game, the Blackhawks successfully killed six penalties in the game, including two in the third period. The Hawks blocked 19 shots in the game, led by four each from Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya. Marian Hossa was credited with a team-leading three takeaways in the game as well.
Offensively, the Hawks scored twice in five chances with the advantage. Keith had two points in the first period to lead the scoring totals. Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Hossa, Seabrook and Toews all had assists in the win.
As a team, the Blackhawks got destroyed in faceoffs by the Predators; Nashville won 34 of 53 draws in the game. The lone bright spot for Chicago was Marcus Kruger, who won six of eight in the game. Jonathan Toews won only six of 16, and Michal Handzus won just three of 12.
For Kane, the game-winning goal was his sixth of the year, tying him with Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf for second in the NHL behind only Corey Perry, also of the Ducks. Kane is the fourth player in the NHL to reach the 20-goal plateau in the 2013-14 season, and his 46 points are right on Sidney Crosby’s heels for the NHL lead.
The win moves Joel Quenneville into fourth place all-time in coaching wins in the NHL by himself, with a great chance to pass Dick Irvin for third before the Olympic break.
The Blackhawks are now off until hosting the Canucks on Friday night.