Kane and company continue streak, bullying Predators at home

#88 Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks to victory. photo: John Russell

#88 Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks to victory.
photo: John Russell

The best team with the best player(s) currently in the NHL were at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night. They were flawless, again. The reigning Stanley Cup winners put a good ol fashion whipping on the home team. The home team was the Nashville Predators (20-18-8), who have lost 6 of their last 7, continuously sliding in the central division, currently 6th. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks (32-13-4) celebrated a franchise record 12th straight win. Final score, 4-1.

Chicago tied the Florida Panthers’ recent streak for the longest in the NHL thus far this season. Superstar Patrick Kane had a goal and assist for the Blackhawks, matching his career high with his 30th goal and has 71 points in 49 games. “I think we’re confident,” said Kane.

Speaking about the streak, goalie Corey Crawford said “It’s one by one.” Yes indeed, it was also one by one for Crawford as he knocked shot after shot away from the goal, finishing the night with 38 saves. “We’re gaining so much momentum and really playing a well-rounded game right now,” continued Crawford. Crawford secured his ninth straight win as the Blackhawks took the season series 3-1.

There are and were plenty of Chicago fans in the Music City and it showed. The Blackhawks did their part, sending them home happy after their sixth straight road victory. Led by Patrick Kane, the team with three Stanley Cup championships over the past six seasons, keep rolling. The winger collected his NHL-leading 20th multi-point game this season. The Hawks look unbeatable at the moment. They keep turning pucks over and getting odd-man rushes game after game, as they did in this one.

The Blackhawks scored first, for the 10th straight game. Artem Anisimov pushed a backhander past a diving Pekka Rinne with 21 seconds left in the first period. The beat continued on early in the second with a wrister from the edge of the right circle from Richard Panik, making it 2-0. Nashville beat Crawford 15 seconds later on a slap shot by Ryan Ellis, but Kane took off on a breakaway and beat Rinne with a backhander a minute later for a 3-1 lead. The Predator goalie had a nightmarish night as he suffered the loss in goal. The All-Star and three-time Vezina Trophy finalist gave up three goals on the first 13 shots he faced. He is 1-5-1 in his past seven starts.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with mistakes that just can’t happen,” stated Predators coach Peter Laviolette. The Predators didn’t take care of the puck, committing turnover after turnover in the neutral zone. They also, couldn’t get the puck past Crawford’s glove after Ellis’ goal. They went 0 for 3 with the man advantage, including two power plays in the third period. Craig Smith hit the post in the first and Crawford saved another shot by Smith in the third off his right toe.

Hawks center Andrew Desjardins scored into an empty net to cap off the win, while Russian rookie Artemi Panarin chipped in two assists to provide the offense for goalie Corey Crawford. The veteran goaltender got his 27th victory of the season—second most in the league.

The Predators need to get it together and fast. They have a game remaining against their Central Division rivals at the end of next month.