CHICAGO, Ill. – Forty minutes into this game, it seemed like the Chicago Blackhawks were finally able to solve this Nashville Predator team. Through five periods this season, the Hawks were able to shutout and solve Barry Trotz’s neutral zone stifling Predator team. But that almost unraveled in the third period as Corey Crawford let two goals slip by after attempted stops. Chicago eventually won the game in the shootout by the score of 3-2 to give the team their 27th win of the season.
Chicago started the scoring in late in the first period with 12 seconds left as a faceoff was being executed on the right wing in Nashville end. Captain Jonathan Toews won the faceoff sending the puck back to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson who in turn passed it forward to rookie Brandon Saad who took the shot to the net that deflected what looked like a defenders skate and in off of Pekka Rinne who was in goal for the Predators.
Then off to the second period the Hawks took a 2-0 lead as Patrick Kane recovered the puck in his zone and skated across the ice with speed with a two-on-one break with Toews. Seeing that he had no chance in getting the puck across, Kane slowed down ever so slightly, settled the puck, and wristed a shot in past Rinne. The period saw the Hawks dominated on shots firing 18 to their opponent’s 4.
But things got tight in the third, as Crawford had a hand on stopping both goals but instead let them slip on in. On Nashville’s first goal 3:56 into the period, Crawford dove and got his glove over the puck but a slit second later, center David Legwand was able to poke his stick blade under the glove to push the puck in. The Predators gained their momentum back and 3:30 later Patric Hornqvist passed the puck to left wing Taylor Beck, with the defensemen scrambling around, he took the shot. Crawford went down stopping the puck that landed in his blocker but his momentum caused it to roll out and into the net. The tide was turned as the Predators had 15 shots to the Hawks 9 in the period.
Overtime saw no results, but into the shootout the Hawks won on the fifth round with Toews going first and scoring and then Michal Rozival getting the winner.
Crawford (15-4-3) went 25 saves on 27 shots for the win as Renne was spectacular stopping 31 shots that helped him earn the Second Star of the game. Chicago’s Brandon Saad with goal received the Third Star with fellow linemate Patrick Kane getting the First Star with a goal himself.
The Blackhawks will next host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday but then face these same Predators with a home and home series on the weekend and will still have to face each other one more time after that to finish the season.
Early in the day the Chicago Blackhawks made a deal with the San Jose Sharks that will add greatly needed depth to the center position. The team acquired 36 year-old Michal Handzus for his second stint with the Hawks where he played only eight games due to and injury during the 2006-07 season. In return the Sharks will get a fourth-round selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.