Toews' SO goal lifts Blackhawks over Predators 5-4
Dec. 30, 2014
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks staged two comebacks that kept them on a roll and on top of the Central Division.
Jonathan Toews scored the only goal in the shootout, after Chicago's Bryan Bickell netted the tying goal with 1:13 left in regulation, and the Blackhawks topped the Nashville Predators 5-4 on Monday night.
Bickell beat Pekka Rinne through a crowd — and with Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford on the bench for an extra skater — after Rinne had stopped David Rundblad's drive from the blue line.
Toews provided the winning margin when he beat Rinne with a wrist shot on the Blackhawks' first shootout attempt to give Chicago its 13th victory in 16 games.
"Certain games will stick out at the end of the year that we'll say that were a huge two points," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Tonight is probably leading in that category as far as drama.
"Down 3-0 to a team that doesn't give up a whole lot, checks well and then you have to pull the goalie and try to get an equalizer. It was a big swing, big turn of events."
Brad Richards, Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa scored in a 7:10 span late in the second period to tie it at after the Predators built a 3-0 lead.
"We're a good team in here for a reason," Bickell said. "We've come back from leads like this before. Just find a way."
James Neal's second goal of the game, a power-play tally with 56 seconds left in the second period, put Nashville ahead 4-3. Roman Josi and Craig Smith also scored, and Colin Wilson added two assists, but the Predators couldn't hold on in regulation.
"(The Blackhawks) have a lot of high-end talent all the way down throughout their lineup," Neal said. "The only way to beat that is you have to be on the offense more than them and you have to be physical with their skill guys.
"I thought we did a good job shooting pucks and going to the net. Just a few little things, we clean that up and we can win the hockey game."
Rinne made 38 saves, and Crawford stopped 36 shots before his perfect shootout as the division rivals met for the fourth and final time in the regular season. Chicago won the series 3-1.
"Those two points are going to come in handy down the road," Shaw said. "They're right on our heels, so we needed a big push. The guys dug deep and got those two points."
Chicago's Patrick Sharp had an assist for his 500th NHL point, earned in his 700th game.
There were surprising scoring bursts and swings, considering the game matched the teams with the league's best defensive records. Chicago entered with an NHL-leading 2.03 goals-against average. Nashville's was 2.06.
The Predators were a step quicker in the first period and built a 2-0 lead as they put 18 shots on Crawford.
Josi opened the scoring at 11:50, five seconds after the Predators killed Wilson's hooking penalty. Josi raced down right wing and fired a rising shot over Crawford's stick.
Smith made it 2-0 with 2:48 left in the period and seven seconds after a Nashville power play ended. Crawford stopped Wilson's first close-in attempt, but Smith popped in the rebound.
Neal was credited with his first goal at 7:28 of the second period to make it 3-0.
Then the Blackhawks roared back.
Rinne made point-blank stops on Toews and Patrick Kane during a Chicago power play midway through the period. Richards made it 3-1 seven seconds after the advantage ended, at 10:33.
Shaw stuffed in a loose puck from the side of the net with 4:12 left in the period to cut it to 3-2.
Hossa's 4-on-3-power-play goal, ripped over Rinne's glove from the top of the right circle, tied it 3-3 just 1:55 later.
Only six seconds after Chicago was penalized for having too many men on the ice, Neal buried a rebound of Filip Forsberg's drive to put the Predators back ahead.
NOTES: Shaw's goal was his first since Nov. 28, a span of 13 games. . Richards returned after missing three games with an upper-body injury. Chicago D Michal Rozsival sat out his second (lower-body). ... Wilson has seven points in four games. . Nashville C Matt Cullen missed the game with an upper-body injury. He is day-to-day. . Predators C Mike Ribeiro played in his 900th NHL game. . A United Center season-high crowd of 22,208 watched the game.