After a dominating performance Sunday afternoon in Detroit, the Chicago Blackhawks were back on the ice Monday Night against another divisional opponent, the Nashville Predators. For the first time this season, Joel Quenneville switched up the defensive pairings Sunday and the move paid off as the Red Wings were only able to get one goal that came in the last minute of the game. Coach Q kept these pairings for Monday night.
Quenneville made another statement by giving Crawford his second in as many days. Since yesterday’s game was during the afternoon, Crawford had the chance to get rested and be ready to go against the Predators. With his strong performance against the Wings, it made sense to get Crawford back in net right away. Entering the final month of the season, the Hawks need one of their two goalies to get hot and win the starting job for the playoffs. This is Crawford’s chance.
The first period did not see much scoring action as both teams were solid defensively. Nashville’s best chance came on a face-off win in the Hawks zone. But Crawford was able to battle the shot off and kept the game scoreless. It appeared it was going to be a scoreless first period but after an icing call, the Hawks had a offensive zone face off with 11 seconds left. Jonathan Toews had won the draw and got a shot on Nashville goalie, Pekka Rinne. Brandon Saad was able to deflect the puck and fine the back of the net to give the Hawks a 1-0 seconds remaining in the period. Saad’s third goal in the past two games.
Defensive dominance continued for the Hawks in the second period and was even better. Smothering defense and great puck control by the Hawks allowed the Predators to get just four shots in the second period, while the Hawks had 18. But Rinne kept the Preds in the game with a handful of impressive saves. After a great pass from Viktok Stalberg on a two-on-one, Rinne stuffed Andrew Shaw. Late in the third, Rinne made another great save on a shot in front of the net by Jeremy Morin. However the Patrick Kane was able to wrist one past Rinne to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead with eight minutes to go in the second.
It seemed like the Hawks were on their way to victory but momentum changed in the third period. After Crawford tried to cover a puck, David Legwand was able to poke it past Crawford. The Predators kept coming on strong and were firing away at Crawford. Taylor Beck was able to bank one in off Crawford and tie the game at two.
The game would eventually go to an entertaining shoot out. Toews scored on the first chance but in took five rounds to settle this one. Michal Rozsival beat Rinne on with a backhand shot and then Crawford shut the door on Beck. Hawks won 3-2.
After his consecutive game point streak was snapped on Sunday, Kane replied with another strong game. With Sidney Crosby out for an extended period of time, Kane figures to be in the MVP race if he continues his strong season. Kane is fifth in scoring, but has the chance to finish the season with the most points. He would become the first American born player to win the point total in a single season. Along with Kane’s possible awards, Saad has put himself in contention for Rookie of the Year honors. He is just six points behind Jonathan Huberdeau for the most points among rookies. Just a few things to keep an eye on as the season winds down.
What’s next: The Hawks get a well deserved two days off before returning to action Thursday night against divisional foe, St. Louis Blues. Puck drop set for 7:30P.M.