10 observations: Stalock shines again as Hawks beat Preds originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Blackhawks held on to beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.
Here are 10 observations from the win:
1. Going into Thursday, the Predators were 13-0-3 in their last 16 games against Chicago. The Blackhawks finally beat the Predators in regulation for the first time since Dec. 18, 2018, which was a 2-1 win at the United Center. Go figure.
2. Alex Stalock had a bit of a shaky start but settled down after the first period, although it didn’t come without a few hold-your-breath moments, which I’ll get to in the next bullet point. His most important stop of the night came on Philip Tomasino, who had a breakaway in the first period of a 0-0 game but Stalock made the save — he had to look back to make sure it didn’t slip past him. Stalock stopped 35 of 36 shots for a save percentage of .972. His shutout bid was broken with 23.6 seconds left in regulation. Ouch.
3. The Predators were awarded a penalty shot in the second period after Stalock threw his stick at Rasmus Asplund, but they couldn’t capitalize on their attempt. Matt Duchene mishandled the puck and Stalock made the easy save. It was the third straight game Stalock faced a penalty shot after doing so against Boston on Tuesday when he denied David Pastrnak and Detroit last week when he stopped Dylan Larkin. A tough missed opportunity for the Predators.
4. The line of Joey Anderson, Boris Katchouk and Jujhar Khaira was, by far, the most effective trio for Chicago. When the three of them were on the ice together at even strength, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (19-8) and scoring chances (9-3), per Natural Stat Trick. When the other three lines were on the ice, the Blackhawks trailed in shot attempts (37-16) and scoring chances (17-7). Oh, I forgot to mention, Anderson scored his third goal in five games to put his team ahead 2-0, which was the icing on the cake. They earned that goal.
5. The Blackhawks scored the first goal for the sixth time in seven games. In four of the last six games, they’ve held 2-0 leads. They’ve gotten off to some nice starts lately, which was a big struggle for them earlier in the season.
6. Lukas Reichel scored his third career NHL goal, and it will probably be one of the weirder ones he scores at this level. He and Andreas Athanasiou had a 2-on-1, and Reichel’s attempted pass to Athanasiou was broken up by Dante Fabbro, who ended up crashing into Juuse Saros. The puck then found its way in because the momentum carried it forward, and it happened while the net came off its moorings. It counted because the Predators knocked the net off themselves.
7. I thought the Caleb and Seth Jones pairing was solid. They led the team in ice time yet again, and the ice tilted in the Blackhawks’ favor when they were out there.
8. With Jonathan Toews still out, Max Domi traded, and Cole Guttman out for the season with a shoulder injury, the Blackhawks’ center depth has taken a major hit. The Blackhawks have been one of the best faceoff teams all season long, but they haven’t been as strong in that department as of late.
9. Even though they were sellers at the trade deadline, the Predators have caught fire the last few weeks. They are 8-3-1 over their last 12 games and are only four points out of the final wildcard spot in the West with three games in hand. And they’re doing it without their leading goal scorer Filip Forsberg. Who would’ve thought? I don’t think they’ll go very far if they get into the playoffs, but they’re battling.
10. The Blackhawks signed defenseman prospect Wyatt Kaiser to a three-year, entry-level contract on Tuesday. He joined the team on the five-game road trip but did not play in this game. They want him to get a few practices first. He’s a good all-around defenseman, and I’m curious to see how his game will translate to the NHL level.
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