With the playoffs approaching in just a few weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to lock up the top seed in the Western Conference and NHL. On Saturday afternoon, the Hawks were back in action against the Nashville Predators who are fighting for a low playoff seed themselves.
After Corey Crawford had a shaky third period on Thursday and awful shoot out, Ray Emery got the nod for the Hawks on Saturday and he was terrific. The Hawks controlled play for much of this game and scored the lone goal five minutes into the game. On a two-on-one newly acquired Hawks, Michal Handzus made a great feed to Bryan Bickell who beat Pekka Rinne. And that was all the Hawks would need in this one.
In the second period, the Hawks had a number of great chances. Their best chance came on a a great pass from Patrick Kane to Daniel Carcillo. But Rinne, who was spectacular in the game, shut the door. Great goaltending was backed up by smothering defense as the Hawks never allowed the Predators to get more than 10 shots a period, including just five in the first period.
The Hawks played a much better third period in this game. Nashville had a golden opportunity when Carcillo was tagged with a four minute penalty. But the Hawks penalty kill completely shut down the Predators power play. Nashville kept coming in the final minute by Emery and the defensive stood strong and shut out the Predators 1-0
What’s next: The Hawks and Predators face each other again tomorrow at the United Center. Puck drop is set for 6P.M. Keep an eye on the goaltending situation for the Hawks. Although Crawford is expected to be the playoff goalie, Emery can still steal it away with a strong month of April. With the afternoon game today, Emery may get the nod again tomorrow.