With the entire city of Chicago focused on their beloved Bears as they make their push through the NFC playoffs, the Blackhawks took the ice for a crucial Home and Home against Central Division foe Nashville.
On Saturday night, the Hawks traveled to Nashville and after 2 periods, it seemed as if the Hawks were on their way to a big road win with goals from both Kopecky and Stalberg giving them a 2-0 lead. In the 3rd however, the Hawks once again allowed their opponents to come back. Jerred Smithson and Shea Weber scored within 3 minutes of each other to tie the game and force the game into OT.
OT came and went with a couple missed opportunities by Chicago including a Patrick Sharp breakaway which was turned aside by Rinne. It was now down to a shootout. Pekka Rinne showed why he is one of the best young goalies in the NHL as he shutout the Hawks in OT and sent Chicago home with their tails between their legs.
As Sunday night came around, the Blackhawks, still angered by their embarrasing defeat in Nashville the night before, took the ice to an empowered crowd pumped up over the Bears advancing to the NFC Championship earlier in the day. These fans were ready for their other winter warriors to dominate and take home a win.
Unfortunately, the Blackhawks seemed to still be on a hangover from the night before. The Hawks looked sluggish in the 1st period (again), and Nashville seemed determine to take another 2 points from their division rival. Martin Erat’s goal just 2 minutes into the game seemed to quiet the crowd and put Nashville in the drivers seat. The Blackhawks however weren’t ready to give up, and Dave Bolland’s goal right around the 6:00 mark brought the Hawks back to even ground. JP Dumont netted a late goal to crush the momentum, and the 1st period finally came to an end.
The 2nd Period was played pretty tight, but Dave Bolland was able to strike again to tie the game going into the 3rd.
With their 3rd period disaster fresh in their minds from the night before, Sunday night seemed to be going the same direction as JP Dumont netted his 2nd goal of the night just 4 minutes in. It looked pretty bleek that Chicago could overcome a deficit for the third time in the same game, but boy was I wrong. The Blackhawks quickly woke up and attacked Nashville with a vengeance…
Troy Brouwer, getting valuable PP minutes, quickly scored 2 goals in :40 seconds to turn the tables on the visitors. The Blackhawks never looked back after that…Bryan Bickell and Jonathan Toews also tallied goals in the 3rd and turned the game into a blowout.
With a recent flurry of injuries hitting Central Division leaders Detroit, now is the time the Hawks need to make a move in the standings. Nashville came into the weekend 1 point ahead of the Hawks, and with the Hawks grabbing 3 out of 4 possible points, they pushed themselves into a tie with the Preds with 2 games in hand.
The Hawks will have another great opportunity to gain valuable division points in their next game which takes place next Saturday vs. Detroit.