Viktor Stalberg's Overtime Goal Lifts Blackhawks Over Predators

By Randy Holt

There were certainly positives and negatives that were at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but the important thing is that the Blackhawks were able to get two points on Monday night against the Nashville Predators.

That win came despite playing most of the game without Duncan Keith, John Scott finding himself in the lineup again, and the Hawks failing to capitalize on any of their multiple power play opportunities.

Of course, in order to win, the Hawks had to come back from one-goal deficits on three different occasions in the first two periods. After a Corey Crawford pass from behind the net was intercepted and knocked in by Patric Hornqvist, Patrick Kane tied the game in the final minute on the period with a shot that he ripped past Pekka Rinne, who was brilliant for most of the night.

The back-and-forth continued into the second period, where Nick Leddy evened things up at two after the Preds took a 2-1 lead on a Craig Smith goal. Thanks to Hornqvist’s second goal of the night, a power play goal, the Predators carried a 3-2 lead into the third period.

That was when the Hawks really shined, offensively. For much of the third frame, the puck was in the Nashville zone, and the Hawks put two goals up on the board. The first was the equalizer from Kane, after a fast breakout and a cross-ice pass from Marian Hossa, which Kane flicked past Rinne.

The Blackhawks would grab the lead for the first time in the game after a nifty pass from Michael Frolik to Bryan Bickell, which Bicks ripped past Rinne, but it wouldn’t last. With just over five to play in regulation, David Legwand evened things up at four.

The two teams combined for just three shots in the overtime period, all of them coming from Chicago, but they would only need one. Viktor Stalberg raced into the Nashville zone and knocked on past Rinne for the 5-4 Blackhawks victory.

First, the negatives. Duncan Keith left the game with an upper body injury and did not return. We’ll know the extent of the damage soon, but Keith is making the upcoming road trip.

The biggest issue with this team is the power play. It’s abysmal. As fantastic as the penalty kill has been this year for Chicago, the power play is at the entirely opposite end of the spectrum. The Hawks were 0-for-7 on the power play on Monday and didn’t score on either of their two-man advantages. The scoreless streak on the power play now stands at 18.

Patrick Kane was brilliant for the Hawks on Monday, tallying three points, including that pair of goals and an assist. In fact, his linemates Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa combined for eight points on the night (2 G, 6 A).

At the end of the day, what really matters is the points and the Hawks won a game that they very likely would have lost last year, thanks to some strong play in the third period. That power play is a major concern, however, as it has been for most of the year.

The Hawks have a couple of days off before setting out on the Dad’s Trip, when the team heads to Florida for a pair of games in the Sunshine State on Thursday and Friday.

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