By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks withstood a typical effort by the visiting Nashville Predators Monday at the United Center. The Blackhawks overcame a few bad bounces, a zero for seven evening on the power play, three Nashville leads and an injury to Duncan Keith to record a 5-4 overtime victory.
Patrick Kane had a pair of goals and an assist in the Chicago win, while Viktor Stalberg made his time in the top six count, scoring the game winner for the second straight game. The ‘Hawks move to 7-2-2 this season.
The game got off to a nightmarish start when a funny bounce along the boards caused the puck to elude Corey Crawford in the first minute. Caught behind his net, David Legwand managed to throw a shot to the side of the goal. The shot hit the post and kicked out in front of the net for Patric Hornqvist to backhand for a Halloween treat of a goal.
The Blackhawks were on the power play three times following Nashville’s mark, including a brief 5-on-3 advantage, but didn’t draw even until the final minute of the period. Kane benefitted from Marian Hossa winning a board battle for the puck, taking a pass from Patrick Sharp and beating Pekka Rinne through the five-hole to knot the score at a goal apiece going into the first intermission.
Craig Smith got one by Crawford at the six minute mark of the second, but the ‘Hawks kept pace in the twelfth minute when Nick Leddy dumped the puck around the boards in the Predator zone. Hossa gained possession and found Kane behind the net. Leddy pinched in, took the pass from Kane and slapped home his second goal of the season.
Nashville got the lead for the third time when Sharp and Dave Bolland were in the box late in the second. Hornqvist took a set up from Ryan Suter to give the Predators a 3-2 advantage after forty minutes.
Five minutes into the third, Kane sent a fluttering shot past Rinne to make it 3-3. The goal was started by a steal in the neutral zone by Sharp. He found Hossa, who in turn sent the primary assist across the ice to Kane. A minute later, Chicago found itself on another two-man advantage. Once again, Nashville and Rinne killed off two penalties.
The Blackhawks finally took a lead with 6:52 remaining when Michael Frolik fed Bryan Bickell for a wrister over Rinne’s pad. The euphoria was short-lived, as Legwand banged home the rebound Crawford allowed off of a Jordan Tootoo attempt to tie the contest at four.
Kane and Jonathan Toews were put on the ice together to start the overtime, and the two nearly ended the game with an assault on Rinne. The Predator goalie denied the two young stars, but the ‘Hawks found another hero to put a stop to the proceedings. Taking a pass from Toews, Stalberg sped into the Nashville zone. After hitting the brakes, Stalberg capitalized on the room the move provided by flicking home the game-winner at the 2:18 mark.
–Crawford stopped just 24 of 28 shots, but had two huge saves off of breakaway attempts by Francis Bouillon in the first and Tootoo midway through the third.
–Keith left the game at the midway point after taking a shot off of his hand. At this point, he is day to day and will travel with the team for its Florida road trip.
–Pat Foley’s brother Matt made an appearance, leaving his van down by the river to take his place behind Chris Boden and Steve Konroyd. No word of him being responsible for motivating the ‘Hawks in the third period.
–Sarah Kustok changed in an out of her rocker costume twice to talk with Patrick Kane at the first intermission as well as after Kaner was named first star of the game. Is that Comcast SportsNet policy, or did she not want to face Kane as a redhead?
–The ‘Hawks got some better looks on the power play, especially in the final period. Rinne made some sick stops, but sooner or later the puck has to go in the net.
–If Rostislav Olesz can be paid $3.5 million to be a healthy scratch and John Scott can draw a salary for less than three minutes of work per night, do you think the ‘Hawks could pay Stalberg’s dad to come to all his son’s games? Stalberg has three goals with his pop in attendance. Hopefully the scoring continues with the dads tagging along to Florida.