NASHVILLE – Tonight with both teams ailing at goaltending, the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators started goaltenders who played for the Hawks AHL affiliate in Rockford the last two seasons. For the Predators, with a hip injury to Pekka Rinne, Carter Hutton is the team’s primary netminder. He signed with the team in the off-season after playing one game for Chicago. As for the Hawks, Antti Raanta was called up after an injury to backup Nikolai Khabibulin. He was then placed in the primary position as Corey Crawford is sidelined with a lower-body injury.
So which team got the better hand, well it started with the Predators taking advantage of everything that they had and was offered. But that disappeared late in the second as the team was on a power-play for over three minutes on a double minor on Patrick Sharp. Tonight, with what the Predators couldn’t convert, the Hawks used to muster out a 3-1 victory.
With a minute and a half into the game, Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith flew in from the center circle and took a dish from Marian Hossa just in on the blue line and fired a wicked shot past one defender, Hutton and in to give the visitors a quick 1-0 lead.
Just a short time later on the power play, defenseman Shea Webber scored his team leading eight goal of the season firing a slapshot from the left wing. This shows the team’s struggles this year as in comparison the Hawks have six players with more goals.
With 16:14 gone in the first, the goal leader for the Hawks, right wing Patrick Kane scored his twentieth goal of this season to give his team the lead. Kane backhanded a difficult shot to the roof of the net as Hutton took a guess that the puck would be passed across to another charging opponent. This goal was scored on the man-advantage for the Hawks.
Nashville dominated on the shots in the first, 17-10 but fell flat with only 11 for the remainder of the game.
Into the second, the Hawks capped off all the scoring they would need. Defenseman Nick Leddy took a rebound on the left wing and got a shot towards the net. The referee waved off the goal and it was sent to Toronto for review. With the nets not as deep as last season it appeared that the puck didn’t go in but upon review the goal was allowed as it hit the top of the net and ricocheted out. Leddy was giving the goal at 11:33 with assists going to Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook.
Raanta got the win saving 27 of 28 shots to bring his record to 7-1-1 while Hutton went 24 for 27 bringing him to a still respectable 7-4-1 record.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star – Shea Webber (Nashville) with a goal on four shots
Second Star – Duncan Keith (Chicago) with a goal and an assist with six shots
First Star – Patrick Kane (Chicago) with the game winner and 20th goal of the season
Left wing Bryan Bickell was activated from injured reserve after being out for a little over a month. Bickell had one shot with a little over nine minutes of ice time. General Manager Stan Bowman made a trade with the Florida Panthers to return Kris Veersteg to the Hawks to add more grit in a line with Bickell and will hopefully see the fruits of their labor produce.
Once the goaltending situation is sorted out the odd man out might be Nikolai Khabibulin. For insurance the Hawks acquired Jason LaBarbera from the Edmonton Oilers for almost nothing and assigned him to the Rockford IceHogs.