CHICAGO (AP)—Craig Anderson was quick to praise his Chicago teammates after his first shutout of the season and second in his NHL career.
Anderson made 20 saves, and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien scored in his first NHL game to lead the Blackhawks to a 3-0 victory over Nashville on Wednesday night.
“We played unbelievable,” Anderson said. “We kept them to like 20 shots and not a lot of second shots. Our defensemen and forwards came back and helped out a lot. It’s great to beat one of the top teams in the league. Everybody was on the same page.”
Byfuglien scored his first NHL goal and point with 4:46 left in the first period.
He wristed a high shot from the left point through traffic that slipped past goalie Chris Mason The goal withstood a video review to determine if the stick of one of the Chicago players screening Mason was too high.
“I was just trying to put it on net and not get it blocked,” said Byfuglien, called up from Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Monday. “The goal got me going and helped out a lot. … I wasn’t really thinking much of coming up here this year, just working more for next year. I got a chance and just want to make the most of it.
He was a plus-2 and saw 17:24 of ice time, including power-play shifts.
Mason made 30 saves for Nashville, which has lost four its last five. Mason started in place of Tomas Vokoun, who helped the Czech Republic win the Olympic bronze medal.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz stopped short of saying his team was tired, but admitted the Predators “showed a little bit or rust” in the first period.
“I don’t think our key guys were strong tonight,” Trotz said. “Our key guys carry the team and they’re going to have to be stronger for us to be successful. Our whole core group has to step up and do a better job.”
Nashville’s Steve Sullivan said the Predators didn’t take the Blackhawks lightly, even though Nashville entered the game 5-0 against Chicago this season and had outscored the Blackhawks 27-8.
“We didn’t want to come in here overconfident,” Sullivan said. “We knew they were going to be really well-prepared to play against us and that they were going to be on top of their game.”
The two teams skated through the opening 7:35 without a whistle. Play finally stopped when Anderson covered up following a save on Sullivan’s shot.
Bourque’s goal with 7.4 seconds left in the second made it 2-0.
After taking a pass from behind the net, Mark Bell rifled a shot from the left circle that struck Bourque and bounded past Mason.
Alone in the slot, Sharp tucked in a backhand shot with 8:41 left in the third.
Anderson made several close-in saves in the final minutes when Nashville had a 4-minute power play.
Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago’s top goalie, has resumed skating and hopes to practice with the team within a week. He has been out since spraining his left knee in Minnesota on Jan. 20. … The Blackhawks played their first home game since Jan. 29. … Nashville C David Legwand played for the first time since having knee surgery Dec. 12. He missed 32 games. … Predators C Vernon Fiddler missed the game because of a concussion, sustained Feb. 8 at Detroit. … Nashville RW Adam Hall and D Ryan Suter were healthy scratches.