Power play propels Blackhawks past Predators

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the Chicago Blackhawks, the power play is powerful.
Right winger Patrick Kane and defenseman Nick Leddy scored extra-man goals Tuesday night, giving Chicago a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
The Blackhawks recorded at least one power-play goal for the 10th consecutive game.
Chicago rookie goaltender Antti Raanta (7-1-1) made 27 saves, including 16 in the first period, as the Blackhawks improved their league-best record to 25-7-5. It was the 685th career win for coach Joel Quenneville, moving past Pat Quinn for fourth place in NHL history.
"I thought we had a good all-around effort," Quenneville said. "Once we got the lead, I thought we managed the game and the puck pretty well."
Credit the power play for that. Since going 0-for-1 in a 2-1 shootout win over the Stars on Nov. 29 in Dallas, Chicago is 14-of-41 (34.1 percent) during its extra-man streak.
Power-play goal No. 13 in that run snapped a 1-1 tie at 16:14 of the first period. Defenseman Duncan Keith's breakout pass hit left winger Patrick Sharp, who threaded a pass to the streaking Kane down the right wing.
Kane shifted the puck from forehand to backhand and roofed a 14-foot shot over the left shoulder of goaltender Carter Hutton for his 20th goal.
"That's a play we've been trying off the breakout," Kane said. "It was a good play by Duncan, Sharp made a nice pass, and I just tried to hit that spot."
With Predators left winger Viktor Stalberg in the penalty box for tripping, Leddy upped the lead to 3-1 at 11:33 of the second period, ramming home the rebound of a shot by left winger Brandon Saad for his fourth goal.
The score was originally waved off by rookie referee Trevor Hanson, but a replay review reversed the call.
Nashville, which saw its three-game winning streak end, had chances to get back into the game after Leddy's goal. Sharp took a double minor for high-sticking at 14:32, canceling out the last 53 seconds of the Predators' second bench minor for too many men on the ice.
However, with three minutes and seven seconds of 5-on-4 time, Nashville (16-15-3) created only two shots on net and couldn't score.
"That was our window to get back into the game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said, "and we were just too light on the puck. That was disappointing to me that we couldn't score on that power play."
After Predators defenseman Shea Weber's man-advantage goal at 3:03 of the first tied the score, Nashville failed to convert on its other six power plays against the Blackhawks' 29th-ranked penalty killing unit.
"It was huge," Keith said. "We gave up one early, but we did a good job of bearing down after that."
Keith started the scoring at 1:29 of the first with a slap shot past Hutton, whom the Predators acquired as a free agent from Chicago on July 5. Hutton (7-4-1), who was the NHL's third star last week after permitting just four goals in three wins, finished with 24 saves.
Even so, like every other goalie in the league over the past 2 1/2 weeks, he couldn't keep the Blackhawks' power play off the board.
"We have two really good units," Keith said. "It seems like if one unit doesn't score, the other one comes up with a goal. We've had the same units all season, so we have that chemistry."
NOTES: Nashville C Filip Forsberg, on injured reserve since sustaining an upper-body injury Nov. 15, skated with the team Tuesday morning. Trotz offered no timetable for the rookie's return. ... Chicago LW Bryan Bickell, who missed 15 games with a lower-body injury suffered Nov. 19 at Colorado, was activated from IR and played Tuesday night. ... Predators G Marek Mazanec did not dress due to an illness. He replaced by Magnus Hellberg, who was called up from AHL Milwaukee to back up Hutton. ... Entering the night, Chicago had six players with 10 or more goals. No other team had more than three players with double-digit goal totals. D Shea Weber leads Nashville with eight goals.

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