But in just five shifts, he accomplished exactly what coach Joel Quenneville had hoped he would do in the team’s final regular season game, a 7-5 loss to the Nashville Predators
Inside the Chicago blue line, Hossa stole the puck away from Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist near the right boards and turned back up ice. Skating through the middle of the ice and then down the right side in the Nashville zone, Hossa drove past winger Gabriel Bourque and curled behind the Predators’ net, emerging on the left side. As his skates hit the goal line, he threw the puck toward the net, where it glanced off of the right skate of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne and into the net at 12:43 of the first.
That was the last time Hossa saw the Bridgestone Arena ice Saturday. The 4:30 of ice time Hossa saw in the game was well off the 18:27 he averaged entering the game.
The goal was Hossa’s 30th of the season, the eighth time he has reached that milestone in his career. He also scored 29 in three other campaigns over the course of his 15 NHL seasons.
“We talked about it this morning,” Quenneville said. “We said, ‘Hos, do you want to play tonight?’ I gave him the option and he had a chance to go score 30 goals in this league. That’s a pretty good year.”
Hossa knew that the Blackhawks would not play their first playoff game until Thursday, so he told the coach he wanted to suit up for the game.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith sat out for the second consecutive night and fellow blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson did not dress, either. Hjalmarsson had played in all 81 of the team’s previous games this season.
Quenneville told Hossa that if he did get that 30th goal, he would be removed from the game.
“Q asked if I want to play, and I was here and I said I might as well get another game,” Hossa said. “As soon as I scored the goal, he said I’m done, and I said OK.”
Hossa is inching closer to 1,000 points for his career. He sits at 995, with 464 goals and 531 assists in 1,090 regular-season games.
The offensive numbers speak for themselves, but Hossa plays a full 200-foot game. His coach thinks he may not get as much credit as he should for the contributions he makes on the defensive side of the red line.
Hossa’s goal Saturday night illustrated that very case. The entire play started with him taking the puck away from a player tied for Nashville’s team lead in goals scored, then skating the length of the ice before scoring from an exceedingly difficult angle.
“Hos, two-way, is as good as any player in the league,” Quenneville said.
Hossa scored his milestone goal with his former coach from junior hockey in the building.
Brent Peterson, Hossa’s coach with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, is the Predators’ hockey operations advisor. Their 1998 Portland team won the Memorial Cup as the champions of the Canadian Hockey League. Peterson was the longtime associate head coach for Nashville before Parkinson’s disease forced him to step away from behind the bench.