Rapid Reaction: Hawks 3, Predators 1
December, 17, 2013
By Eric Single
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Special to ESPNChicago.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
How it happened: Less than 90 seconds into the game, Marian Hossa pulled up in transition and fed Duncan Keith for a slap shot that beat Carter Hutton to open the scoring, but the Predators quickly countered on the power play with Shea Weber's eighth goal of the season at 3:03 of the first period. Patrick Kane extended his points streak to 10 games with a filthy backhand from in tight that beat Hutton short-side late in the first period.
Nick Leddy jumped on a rebound to deposit a power-play goal and double the Chicago lead midway through the second period. Goaltender Antti Raanta stood tall after surrendering the early goal and helped fend off a high-sticking double minor on Patrick Sharp late in the second period that represented the Predators' last sustained chance to reel in the deficit.
What it means: In his first game since Nov. 19 after missing 14 games because of a lower-body injury, Bryan Bickell took part in a few early scoring chances and logged 9:40 of ice time playing on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. Bickell's return to full strength gives the Blackhawks their full complement of forwards again, allowing coach Joel Quenneville to be more flexible with his line combinations as the team's grueling first-half schedule slows up in the coming weeks.
The Blackhawks extended their lead in the Central Division to seven points over the St. Louis Blues, who lost in regulation on Tuesday night. Quenneville won his 685th career regular-season game, passing Pat Quinn to take sole possession of fourth on the NHL's all-time wins list.
Player of the game: Kane potted the eventual winner after a crisp give-and-go with Sharp, which provided a microcosm of the Blackhawks' night. The Predators created the majority of chances, but the visitors made the most of their early opportunities. Kane has needed only 37 games to reach the 20-goal mark for the seventh consecutive season and has tallied at least a point in 22 of his 23 games.
Stat of the game: After throwing 17 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, two short of their season high for any single period, the Predators were held to only 11 shots in the second and third periods combined.
What's next: The Blackhawks head home for a few days off before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Friday to begin a three-game homestand. Shaw and Marcus Kruger scored two third-period goals in a span of nine seconds to help the Blackhawks secure a 2-1 victory in the teams' first meeting this season.