Blackhawks

Predators staying confident after Game 3 loss to Blackhawks

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Predators staying confident after Game 3 loss to Blackhawks

Despite coming out of Game 3 down by one in the series, the Nashville Predators felt they did a pretty good job keeping things even with the Blackhawks a majority of Sunday's game.

Leading into the second period, the Blackhawks and Predators exchanged both quality scoring chances and goals, so much so that the Blackhawks held two separate leads for only a combined 53 seconds before Nashville answered back.

But two more goals from Chicago in the second proved to be the difference-maker; goals the Predators said resulted from puck-management issues on their end.

"Tip the cap to them," defenseman Cody Franson said following Nashville's 4-2 loss. "They played well, they played a fast game all night. A lot of what they got came from us trying to do something a little extra. Not keeping it simple. Puck management's big against these guys. With that amount of skill they have up front, it's paramount to manage the puck well."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Predators arrived in Chicago with a tall task at hand considering their captain and all-star defenseman Shea Weber didn't make the trip after suffering an injury in Game 2.

Prior to Sunday's contest, the Predators went 1-4-2 in the absence of Weber over the last two seasons, allowing 29 goals over the span of seven games.

And in a game where the Blackhawks' top guys were putting on such strong performances — after Andrew Desjardins' opening goal, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook each found the back of the net — Weber's absence could be especially felt.

"Any time you lose a guy like [Weber], that's a big loss for us," Franson said. "But we have a good group of guys in here. We've got guys that are very capable and guys that are very bought in to try to pick up that slack and extend our run here as long as possible. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight, but a couple small pockets where we didn't manage the puck well and they were able to create some offensive zone time and capitalize on a couple of chances."

[MORE: Darling stays hot after Game 3 win]

Nashville's new makeshift top defensive pairing of Roman Josi and Seth Jones had been on the ice for three of the Blackhawks' four goals, but the Predators said they're still confident they have enough depth to thrive even while Weber is out.

"I thought [the defense] was pretty good," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought we had a pretty good game defensively, there were times I thought they controlled their offensive zone — our defensive zone — that's gonna happen at times. I think you have to hang in there and play defense. I thought our guys did that. Certainly would rather have Shea, but that's not an option."

The Predators were still able to take a lot of positives out of Sunday's game despite the final outcome. They're confident in each others' ability to step up in the absence of Weber and will look to improve their puck management by keeping their game simple moving forward.

Now their focus is on tying the series back up in Game 4.

"We don't want to go home down two and have ourselves in that situation if we can help it," Franson said. "The next game's a big game. There's no right or wrong way to win a playoff series as long as you win it at the end."

What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

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AP

What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

It was never a matter of if and only a matter of when Patrick Kane would reach 1,000 career NHL points. He tried his best not to let it creep into his mind as he got closer to the number, but it was difficult not to.

Kane entered Sunday's game sitting at 999 points after picking up one the night before on Hockey Night in Canada to extend his point streak to nine games. He needed only one more to make history and did so, fittingly, in front of a sold-out United Center crowd of 21,487.

Kane recorded the secondary assist on Brandon Saad's goal in the third period to make it 4-1 and the entire team left the bench to mob Kane thanks to captain Jonathan Toews, who orchestrated the ordeal and cleared it with league officials. 

"What a moment, obviously, with everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that moment with me," Kane said following a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. "You see some faces in that pile that have been a big part of a lot of those points, whether it’s been [Toews] or [Duncan Keith] or [Alex] DeBrincat recently, [Saad] to finish it off I think was pretty cool. ... As far as everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that with me is something I’ll never forget."

Kane became the youngest American-born player to hit the 1,000-point mark and fourth player in Blackhawks history to accomplish that feat, joining Denis Savard (1,096), Bobby Hull (1,153) and Stan Mikita (1,497). Only 89 other players in NHL history are part of the 1,000-point club; Kane makes it 90.

[RELATED: Kane first star interview]

"He's one of those elite players," Brandon Saad said. "He's one of those few who can achieve goals like that. All you can say is good things about him. He's a special player. He keeps getting better with age. He's fun to play with."

It was a memorable night in Chicago, but there was something missing. Kane’s parents couldn't attend due to inclement weather in their hometown of Buffalo. His dad, Pat Kane Sr., made it to all 41 home games last season.

“It’s tough not having them here,” Kane said. “They’ve been a big part of my career. I’m sure I’ll talk to them after this and hopefully there will be some better moments in the future that they’ll be here for.”

Kane’s list of accolades in his NHL career is only getting longer and will continue to get longer. Three Stanley Cups. Conn Smythe Trophy recipient. Art Ross Trophy winner. League MVP. Now a member of the 1,000-point club.

"It’s special," Kane said. "I’ve been very fortunate in my career, whether it’s been getting drafted by Chicago or making some decisions when I was younger to move away at 14 years old, a freshman in high school, forgo college and play in London for a year.

"Obviously, Chicago winning the lottery, getting drafted by Chicago, then having a lot of good pieces in place here with some great players where we could turn the corner pretty fast and become a good team. There were a lot of things that were lined up. When you reach a milestone like this you think of all those players you played with that had a big part of it. It’s been a fun ride."

Even though he’s accomplished just about everything in his hockey life, Kane is still hungry for more.

[RELATED: Kane's road to 1,000 career points]

So what’s next?

"1,001," Kane laughed. "Start there and then move forward."

But really, there's only one goal.

"Maybe a few more Cups," Kane said to Chicago crowd after being named No. 1 star of the game. "That would be nice, right?"

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Patrick Kane receives the championship belt from Jonathan Toews after getting to 1K

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USA TODAY

Patrick Kane receives the championship belt from Jonathan Toews after getting to 1K

Patrick Kane added a special milestone onto the Blackhawks' fifth-straight win, scoring the 1,000th point of his NHL career.

Kane was emotional after the overall awesome night capped off by his amazing feat. Jonathan Toews made sure that Kane received the "championship belt" that the Blackhawks give to the team's top player after every win. Toews called it a  "no brainer" of a decision. 

Kane was overjoyed and emotional speaking tp his teammates, stating, "that was absolutely unreal, obviously getting 1,000 points but having you guys come on the ice there and share it with me was a great moment."

Obviously the big focus on the night was Kaner's amazing career achievement but even he wanted to make sure the overall team success doesn't go unnoticed. Kane knows how confident the team is right now and wants to keep the wins going. 

[RELATED: Patrick Kane makes NHL history]

"It's been fun here for a long time," stated Kane, and with 1,000 career points and No. 88 hopefully a Chicago Blackhawk for the rest of his career, it will be fun for much, much longer.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.