On January 19th, Patrick Kane scored the league’s first goal of the season and kicked off the Chicago Blackhawks’ amazing and historic season. On Sunday, the Blackhawks were first again, this time in clinching their fifth consecutive playoff spot at the 5-3 expense of the Nashville Predators.
It was Jonathan Toews, the first star of the game, who scored the game winning goal and also tallied an assist for the night. He assisted on Brandon Saad‘s rebound goal in the third period, and only 55 seconds later, a successful forecheck by Kane was passed to Toews, who tucked the puck in behind Pekka Rinne.
The third period was strong for the second game in a row, though it started out looking like the same sloppy third period that has plagued the Blackhawks after David Legwand’s goal at the beginning of the period to give the Predators the lead. But that seemed to ignite the Blackhawks, who roared back with Saad’s and Toews’ goals. Kane then scored his 20th goal of the season with an empty netter.
While the power play still needs work, the penalty kill has been as strong as ever. The Blackhawks killed the only penalty against them, and they’ve been successful on their last 17 penalty kills. In fact, the last time they allowed a power play goal was March 10.
It looks like the Blackhawks are beginning to shake the problems that have plagued them. With Patrick Sharp traveling with the team to Minnesota for Wednesday’s game, the roster may be healthy again. The playoffs are now a sure thing, so it can only get better.