NASHVILLE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-2 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday:
The last time the Blackhawks and Predators met, it resulted in one of the most lopsided scoresheets you'll ever see. The Predators dominated in shot attempts (87-41), shots on goal (51-20), scoring chances (42-14) and high-danger chances (16-3), according to Natural Stat Trick, en route to a 3-0 victory less than three weeks ago.
While the Predators led in most of the underlying categories on Saturday, the Blackhawks got their revenge on the scoreboard.
With the win, the Blackhawks improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games and moved above a .500 points percentage for the first time all season. They've scored 24 goals in their last five games after scoring only 33 in their first 14.
"It was a good response tonight I think we knew coming into this rink it was going to be a test for us and we wanted to respond and show that wasn't our team the last time we were here," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I thought that we did that and we've had a good stretch where we've been getting points and we want to extend that."
2. Blackhawks chase Pekka Rinne
Rinne was lights out for the Predators in his first eight starts of the season. He was 7-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and two shutouts.
Since calling the 20-save shutout against the Blackhawks on Oct. 29 "one of the for-sure easier" ones of his NHL career, Rinne is 1-3-1 and has given up 20 goals on 112 shots for a save percentage of .821 over his last five starts.
Against the Blackhawks, Rinne gave up four goals on 14 shots for a save percentage of .714 before being pulled for Juuse Saros in the second period. And the Blackhawks bench let him hear it as he skated off.
"Yeah, it did," a smiling Erik Gustafsson said on whether it felt good to chase Rinne. "I don't think he had the best night today."
Robin Lehner was terrific yet again for the Blackhawks. He stopped 39 of 41 shots for a save percentage of .951.
3. Weathering the storm
Colliton said the morning of their last game against Nashville that the Blackhawks would likely need to weather the storm in the first 10 minutes because the Predators always start strong in their own building. They didn't and were never able to tilt the ice.
The Blackhawks did on Saturday night, though.
After giving up the first six shots on goal, the Blackhawks outshot the Predators 9-6 the rest of the first period and scored the first two goals for the fourth time in five games. It's exactly what the Blackhawks were hoping to do, and it turned the momentum quickly after the Predators dictated the pace of play to start.
"They were really good the first five minutes of every period," Lehner said. "We weathered the storm together. The D battled really hard. They're a really good offensive team as well. ... It was a nice win. Nice bounce-back and kind of shows the progress we made since the last time we were here."
4. Contributions from defensemen
The Blackhawks haven't gotten much offensive contribution from the back end this season. They had only three goals from their defensemen in the first 17 games (Adam Boqvist, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook).
But with Calvin de Haan finding the back of the net in Vegas, Gustafsson scoring a goal in back-to-back games after a 16-game scoring drought and Seabrook netting his second of the season, the Blackhawks have gotten four goals from their defensemen in the past two games. It helps take the pressure off the forwards when everybody is chipping in on offense.
"It's important," Colliton said. "We have some guys who can jump in and produce and Gus's goal was big. They had some chances then all of a sudden we're up 1-0. He can provide that and obviously he showed he can do it last year so hopefully he's got more in the tank."
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