It felt like a boring afternoon game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, with only one goal scored and two penalties after two periods. Fans braced themselves for another third period letdown from the Blackhawks, but this time, they surprised them with a 1-0 win.
In the last few games, the Blackhawks would ease up to the point that they’d allow goals, blow leads and sometimes lose the game. This time, with their one-goal lead, they pushed forward and didn’t cut the Predators any slack, especially when Daniel Carcillo took a four-minute high sticking double minor. The Blackhawks killed that penalty and kept up the pressure, holding the Predators to only seven shots on goal for the period.
Bryan Bickell was the lone goal scorer, taking a beautiful pass from Michal Handzus and sending the wrist shot past Pekka Rinne. There were also some very good chances by Carcillo, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who tried several times to net a wraparound goal to no avail. Ray Emery earned his second shutout of the season, making 20 saves in the game and continuing to dazzle everyone with his moves.
With the Blackhawks’ win, they could clinch the postseason’s first playoff spot. Half the battle was already overcome when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers, and the other half will come if the Colorado Avalanche beat the Phoenix Coyotes in regulation or overtime.
It was good to see that the Blackhawks broke their third period jinx. They just need to do that in their next 10 games. The playoffs are calling, and maintaining a strong third period will be key in the postseason.