CHICAGO, Ill. – The Chicago Blackhawks did something that they had never done against the Nashville Predators, they swept the five-game season series finishing tonight’s game with a quick overtime win in overtime. Nashville’s Rich Clune was assessed with a double-minor late in regulation that carried into overtime where Marian Hossa scored his 17th goal of the season as he shot a one-timer on one knee past Pekka Rinne.
For just the second time in the last nine season, the Nashville Predators were officially eliminated from the playoffs earlier in the week but for the Hawks they are inching their way to the Presidents’ Trophy with five games left and six points separating them from the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have also gained home ice throughout the playoffs.
Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith scored only his third goal of the season as Viktor Stalberg feed him a centering pass for the slapshot in at 4:48 of the opening period. Under two minutes later, defenseman Kevin Cline got a shot that hit Corey Crawford and fell on the ice where winger Matt Halischuk was able to recover the puck and get it in between the pads for the first tie of the game. The Predators followed that up as they stole the puck from the Hawks and Chris Muller went in hard on Crawford. The puck was lodged in the corner of the net but with no whistle being called to stop the play the Predators kept poking their sticks and eventually Kevin Henderson got the puck in to give what would be Nashville’s only lead of the game. The Hawks got that one back as Brandon Saad took his own rebound on in to knot the score at two goals apiece.
The teams exchanged goals in the second as Patrick Kane went in on the two-man rush with a slight lift of his leg, he made Rinne commit, allowing him to find a nice spot to the back of the net. It was again Halischuk tying the score as he took the puck on the breakaway getting the initial shot to rebound off of Crawford and turning the angle for the goal.
Half way through the third it was the Blackhawks taking the lead again as the Predators turned over the puck in their zone to center Michal Handzus who fired a wrister in. But late in the period, Bobby Butler tied it up as he came in on the shift change, cycled to puck around the net and received the pass from Halischck for the slap on in. with just 34 seconds left taking it in to overtime.
Butler had a tremendous game with a goal and an assist after being claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils scoring three goals in the last four games.
Crawford made 23 saves on 27 shots while Rinne went 25-30 for the loss. Hawks backup goaltender Ray Emery was scratched from the lineup with a back injury as the team called up Cater Hutton from Rockford of the AHL. Hutton has yet to play in a NHL game.
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star – Blackhawks Jonathan Toews with two assists
2nd Star – Predators Matt Halischuk with two goals and an assist
1st Star – Blackhawks Duncan Keith with one goal and two assists
The Blackhawks will do it again on Saturday night as the Phoenix Coyotes visit the Madhouse on Madison.