The Blackhawks spent this past weekend adding to their current win streak with a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night and a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Friday, December 5th – Blackhawks 4 – Canadiens 3
The Canadiens came to the United Center on Friday night for a classic original six showdown with the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks jumped out to an early first period lead with goals from defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Ben Smith. Rozsival’s goal was the bottom-pair defenseman’s first of the season, while fourth-liner Smith notched his second goal of the season.
Unfortunately, the Blackhawks would squander their two goal lead when Montreal struck back with three unanswered goals. The first goal came from Brendan Gallagher 26 seconds after Ben Smith’s goal, a one-timer set up from a great pass from Alex Galchenyuk, while the second goal came on a slap shot from 40-year-old Sergei Gonchar.
The third goal from the Canadiens came on the power play after a blown tripping call by the officials on Patrick Kane. Defenseman P.K. Subban took advantage on the ensuing power play with a one-timer off a pass from Andrei Markov.
Down but not out, the Blackhawks began the third period trailing by a score of 3-2. Captain Jonathan Toews led by example, getting the game tying goal on the power play after a scramble in front of the net. The goal was Toews’ 11th of the season, while Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg were credited with the assists.
With the game tied 3-3, and after a series of great saves from Blackhawks’ starting goalie Antti Raanta, Brandon Saad found a rebound off a shot from Patrick Kane and buried it to put the Blackhawks ahead 4-3 with 27 seconds to play in the game. The goal was Saad’s fifth of the season.
Ben Smith held the puck in the corner during the final seconds and the Blackhawks secured the 4-3 victory.
Goalie Antti Raanta, who was starting in place of the injured Corey Crawford, was credited with the victory, making 38 saves on 41 shots.
Saturday, December 6th – Blackhawks 3 – Predators 1
On Saturday the Blackhawks traveled to Nashville to take on the Central Division leading Nashville Predators.
Chicago native and rookie goaltender Scott Darling got the start for the Blackhawks, while Pekka Rinne started between the pipes for the Predators.
The Blackhawks got off to another fast start and accompanying two goal lead with goals from Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa. Saad shelved a wrist shot while Hossa converted a one-timer off a beautiful pass from Saad. Hossa’s goal was his fourth of the season.
The Predators refused go quietly and made it a game of sorts with a goal from Colin Wilson 34 seconds into the final period to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
Darling made 12 of his 32 saves in the final period, at least one at point blank range, and put the pressure on the Predators to pull their goal in the final minutes in an attempt to tie the game.
The Predators’ gamble did not pay dividends, as Marian Hossa stole a puck in the neutral zone and shot it into the Predators’ empty net while chants of “Let’s go Hawks” were reigning down from the numerous Blackhawks’ fans that made the trip to Nashville.
The game ended with a 3-2 Blackhawks victory and Chicago jumping into first place of the Central Division with 37 points to Nashville’s 36 points.
The Blackhawks next travel to New Jersey to take on the Devils on Tuesday, December 8th at 6:00 p.m. CT. The game will be televised locally on Comcast Sports Net.
– Defenseman Klas Dahlback made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks on Saturday night and looked good in 12:24 of ice time. He took one shot, blocked a shot, and delivered one hit.