Charlie Roumeliotis

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over Predators: How long can Brandon Saad keep this up for?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over Predators: How long can Brandon Saad keep this up for?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night:

1. Corey Crawford stays sharp.

It was another busy night for the Blackhawks netminder, and he was on his A-game yet again from the moment the puck dropped.

Crawford made 29 of his 37 saves in the first two periods, and allowed only one goal for the fourth time in five games this season to up his season save percentage to .959.

"He's gotten off to a great start for us," Joel Quenneville said. "Can't say enough good things about him."

2. Slow start, strong finish.

The Blackhawks had 17 shot attempts in the first period, 11 of which were on goal, while the Predators peppered 32 attempts towards the net and got 18 on goal. It was an unorthodox start for the Blackhawks, who are outscoring their opponents 11-1 in the opening frame so far this season.

Seven of their eight high danger scoring chances allowed came in that period as well. If it weren't for Crawford, as mentioned above, it could've been a different result through 20 minutes.

3. Can Brandon Saad keep this up, and for how long?

The Blackhawks could not have envisioned a better start for Saad in his second stint with Chicago. He opened the season with a hat trick, and has recorded at least a point in five of six games.

He scored the overtime winner in this one after burying a perfect pass from Patrick Kane, and has now scored the game-winning goal in all four Blackhawks wins this season.

Saad is on pace for 82 goals. Is that doable?

"I don't know," Saad laughed. "I just try my best and do what I can. It's been fun so far."

4. Power play goes quiet.

The Blackhawks scored a power play goal in each of their last four games entering Saturday, but it dried up against Nashville.

They went 0-for-6 on the man advantage, and struggled to create any type of quality scoring chance despite recording eight shots on goal during them.

What needs to change in that area?

"More of the boring quotes that we're going to give you," Patrick Sharp joked with the media. "They're quotes because it's what works. Quick puck movement, more shots, traffic to the net. We feel like we're entering the zone okay, but we're just breaking out too many times, we're not sustaining pressure and generating a whole lot of scoring chances.

"I'm sure the next few days we'll talk about getting pucks to the net, screening the goalie, getting those second and third chances."

5. Pekka Rinne picks up where he left off.

The visiting goaltender wasn't too bad, either.

In four playoff games against the Blackhawks last year, Rinne allowed just three goals and had a .976 save percentage, including two shutouts in back-to-back games at the United Center.

He picked up right where he left off, and appeared to be headed for a third straight shutout in Chicago until Sharp got the Blackhawks on the scoreboard with 6:36 left in the third period.

Rinne finished the game with a season-high 33 saves.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Wild in Central Division showdown

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Wild in Central Division showdown

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. What's the status of Nick Schmaltz?

The Blackhawks picked up three out of a possible four points during their mini two-game road trip in Toronto and Montreal, but they've certainly missed Schmaltz. They were outshot by a combined 85-46 against the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, showing the imbalance their lineup has with Schmaltz not in it.

Joel Quenneville told reporters at morning skate that Schmaltz will not play due to an upper-body injury, and they're now targeting Saturday for a potential return. Minnesota is the first of three straight games against Central Division opponents for Chicago, so the quicker Schmaltz can return the better.

2. Duncan Keith and Ryan Suter.

We've watched the Blackhawks score a ton of goals through four games this season, so let's focus on the defensive matchup this time, shall we?

Keith and Suter are the blue-line anchors for their respective teams, and are two of only a handful of defensemen who are capable of logging heavy minutes while getting better as the game goes on.

They've both gotten off to slow starts offensively, combining for two assists in six games, but that doesn't take away from how dangerous they are at both ends of the ice. They're the engines that make their defenses go.

3. Two potential Calder Trophy candidates.

Both the Blackhawks and Wild have exciting top prospects that have cracked the every-day lineup this season, and both of them have a chance to be in the mix for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Alex DeBrincat, who was taken by Chicago in the second round (No. 39 overall) of the 2016 draft, scored his first career goal in the NHL on Tuesday night and has three points in four games.

Joel Eriksson Ek, a first-round selection (No. 20 overall) in 2015 by Minnesota, has solidified his spot as the Wild's third-line center, and scored a goal in the team's season opener.

Expect these two rookies to at least be in the hunt of the rookie scoring race all season.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-1 bounce-back win over Canadiens

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-1 bounce-back win over Canadiens

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night:

1. Salvaging a slow start.

The Blackhawks have dominated the first period through three games this season, having outscored their opponents 9-0 in the opening frame entering Tuesday's game. They got off to their worst start of the year in this one though, allowing the Canadiens to strike first just 1:15 into the contest and were outshot 14-2 halfway through the period.

But the Blackhawks salvaged their slow start by scoring two goals in 19 seconds towards the latter stages of the period, and took a lead into the second for the fourth straight game.

2. Alex DeBrincat scores his first of many goals in the NHL.

We teased the possibility of it in our Three Things to Watch, but the Blackhawks' top prospect is officially on the board. The 19-year-old winger snapped a three-game goal drought to open the season by blasting one past arguably the league's best goaltender in Carey Price for his first career tally.

On the play, DeBrincat received a short pass from Patrick Sharp, adjusted his body quickly to get into a shooting position and slapped it home from one of his main sweet spots. He also registered an assist later in the game for his first multi-point effort of his career.

Side note: DeBrincat committed a third-period turnover that led to a breakaway, but his strong backcheck helped disrupt the shot. That's something coaches will certainly appreciate when looking back at the tape.

3. Corey Crawford continues domination against hometown team.

For the second straight game, the Blackhawks perhaps got bailed out by great goaltendering. The Montreal native was outstanding in his hometown return, and he had to be from the very beginning.

The Canadiens peppered the Blackhawks with 14 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the game, and finished the contest with a season-high 42 of them. Crawford stopped all but one of them in the win, and improved to 8-0-2 with a 1.49 goals against average and .954 save percentage in 10 career games against Montreal.

The most important save of the game came on a shorthanded breakaway in the second period, which happened shortly before the Blackhawks scored on the power play to take a 3-1 lead. The score wouldn't change the rest of the way.

Crawford has now allowed only one goal in each of his first three games, and increased his season save percentage to .971. A darkhorse Vezina Trophy candidate? 

4. Penalty kill steps up.

Crawford was the biggest reason the Blackhawks won, but the penalty kill unit is a close second. They were a perfect 5-for-5 in that department against a team still searching for its first power play goal of the season.

Early in the first, the Blackhawks killed off a 5-on-3 penalty that could've changed the complexion of the game but their unit stood tall.

Tanner Kero and Tommy Wingels were very noticeable in their own ends, combining for four blocked shots and breaking up a handful of plays with active sticks. It was an all around great effort.

5. Cody Franson's debut could've been better.

Connor Murphy was a health scratch in only his fourth game with the Blackhawks, but it was likely more about getting another defenseman some reps on the second of a back-to-back rather than his on-ice play. And with the Gustav Forsling-Jan Rutta pairing shining and Franson being a right-handed shot, it makes sense why Murphy was taken out instead of the left-handed shot Michal Kempny.

As far of Franson's debut went, it wasn't bad but it wasn't great. He committed a pair of penalties (tripping and slashing) but it didn't cost his team thanks to the penalty kill coming through in the clutch, as we mentioned above.

Franson finished the game with 16:41 of ice time, recorded an assist on Anisimov's goal, and had four shot attempts (two on goal).