Last night, the Blackhawks beat the Predators by a score of 2-1. It wasn’t an amazing, dominating win, but it was a step in the right direction. For the first time since Crawford got hurt, the Hawks had a true goalie win. Anton Forsberg was absolutely unbreakable. Despite his one blunder behind the net, he was untouchable once he got back in front of the net.
After shutting down a couple decent chances through the first two periods, the Preds came at him with all they had. He made last year’s Western Conference Champs, and current 2nd place team in the Central, look like pretenders instead of contenders. How he wasn’t one of the top 3 stars of the game, I’ll never know. Shots on goal through the first two periods were 22-21 in favor of the Hawks. In the third period however, Nashville went on full attack, getting 22 shots on goal! And Forsberg stopped every single one! By the end of the night, he had 42 saves on 43 shots. Just an complete goalie win thanks to Forsberg standing on his head.
On the other end of the ice, one of the Hawks hottest lines of Debrincat-Toews-Duclair seemed to cool down a bit. Although with the shutdown line of Aberg-Johansen-Arvidsson going up against them most of the time, they get a pass on this one. The best line out there last night was no doubt the Hinostroza-Kampf-Jurco line. They’re technically listed as the “4th line” but they were a tough matchup out there. The speed that they play with is hard to keep up with, and if they can keep scoring like that, forget about it! That line did score the only 2 goals on the night for the Hawks but that wasn’t it, they were creating tons of chances throughout the night, forechecking and backchecking hard, and turning defense into offense in the neutral zone.
Defensively, it was a decent game. No huge mistakes that cost us the game. Even though there were a couple times that they were a little too soft with the puck in their own zone, Forsberg was there to bail them out. Any time you hold a good team like Nashville to one goal, it’s a good night. They were also able to stay disciplined for the most part. Coming in to the game, I’m sure Coach Q made it known that they have one of the top Power Play units in the league, and the Hawks couldn’t afford to give them an opportunity. I was actually thinking during the game, “Hey, they’re playing really self-controlled and not making any dumb mistakes.” Wouldn’t you know it, less than a minute after thinking that, Hartman commits a very unnecessary penalty. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharp or Bouma takes his spot on that third line in Vancouver tomorrow night.
The Hawks are in a tough spot right now, obviously. But like I said, last night was a step in the right direction. Winning hard fought games like that is something they need to keep doing in order to make a push for a wild card spot. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a little more excited about these last couple months of the season. And if they don’t clinch a playoff spot this year, hopefully they give it all they’ve got, and learn from this season.
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com