NASHVILLE – Patrick Kane has come up with some big points in his career. On Thursday, No. 700 proved to be pretty important.
Kane’s 700th career point was the game-winning goal and Corey Crawford stopped 36 of 38 shots as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Nashville Predators 3-2. The Blackhawks snapped their three-game losing streak (0-2-1) and remain atop the Western Conference. Not that the Minnesota Wild are giving them any breathing room. The Wild, who beat the New York Islanders on Thursday night for their 12th consecutive victory, remain just one point behind the Blackhawks.
Artem Anisimov scored his second goal in as many games and Jonathan Toews also scored for the Blackhawks. Kane also had an assist and Artemi Panarin ran his point streak to nine for the Blackhawks, who finally got out of their goal-scoring skid (they had tallied just two in their previous two games combined).
After squandering opportunities at the United Center, the Blackhawks needed this one.
“[The Predators] obviously show up and they play tight defensively. So yeah, it’s nice for us to get that one and kind of nip things in the bud as far as our little skid right now,” Toews said. “Power play was good, penalty kill was good, and I think we had the goaltending, and obviously the stops that we needed and a couple bounces when we needed them, as well.”
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
This one showed the familiar trend for the Blackhawks: slow start, outshot early and Crawford keeping them in it until they got going. The turning point in this one came when Craig Smith was called for tripping Crawford, much to the angst of the Predators and their fans. On replays, it appeared the opposite happened.
“Well, I mean, it was his turf and he’s doing what he has to do,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks took advantage, as Toews’ tip for a power-play goal tied this one at 2-2. About four minutes later it was Kane with the winner, an unassisted goal from the right circle.
“If you get a chance in the third you want to take advantage of it,” Kane said. “Nice to finish that one off. Maybe in a game we didn’t necessarily deserve to win. Crow played great and timely goals once again. That’s kind of the story of the season but big win to end the skid there a little bit.”
The Blackhawks left Nashville on Thursday knowing they didn’t play their best game. Once again, they started slow. Once again, they had the finish.
“Our starts need to be better. But this [Predators] team has tremendous starts in this building and they get on you quick. They have speed in their lineup, the crowd got behind them early and we got going as the game progressed. But I think that’s been our m.o. for most of the games this year: we get better as the games progress,” Quenneville said. “Tonight, finding a way to win was needed.”