Rozsival's first career shootout goal lifts Blackhawks

Jerry Bonkowski, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Michal Rozsival has played in 776 games in the NHL, but as hard as it may seem to believe, Monday night marked the first time the 6-foot-1, 212-pound defenseman has taken part in a shootout.
Call it beginner's luck, but Rozsival's backhander got past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne for the deciding goal as the Blackhawks won their second game in a row with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Predators.
"He's (Rozsival) deserved the chance to go (in the shootout) in the game because in practice he's unbelievable, he scores every time," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "He's got great hands and great patience with the puck. He was waiting for the goaltender to make the first move. Big goal by him."
It was Rozsival's 65th career NHL goal but his first this season. The Blackhawks are now 9-3 in games that extend past regulation, including 4-0 in overtime and 5-3 in shootouts. The nine overtime/shootout wins are a league high.
"He's (Rozsival) got a move there," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he went to his signature move tonight. I thought he made a great play. Rozi's had the same patience in the game too, so it didn't rattle him at all."
Rozival's shot was the fifth and final attempt for the Hawks in the shootout, with only Toews scoring to open the extra round. Craig Smith was the only Predator whose shot found the net.
Missing their shootout attempts were the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. Missing for the Predators were Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand, Sergei Kostitsyn and Taylor Beck.
"He's (Rozsival) burying the puck in practice in those shootouts, so I thought it was a good call by the coaches to put him in," Kane said. "Obviously, a wily veteran move there to just take it to his backhand and lift it up. We've seen it before in practice, so we were just waiting to see it in a game."
The Blackhawks are now 27-5-3 this season, including 13-3-1 at home, and the Predators dropped to 14-14-8.
Winning Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford improved his season record to 15-4-3, and Rinne is 13-10-7.
After trouncing the Red Wings 7-1 in Detroit on Sunday, the Hawks looked significantly more like the team that began the season with a 21-0-3 record, the best start in team history. well, at least in the first two periods they did, building a 2-0 lead and playing tough defense.
Chicago's defensive game fell apart in the third period, not only allowing Nashville to tie the score but embarrassing themselves at times with utterly poor defensive play.
"It's a reoccurring theme lately with teams coming at us hard in the third period," Toews said. "We have to make sure it's our best period going forward. That's gotta be at the forefront of our mindset.
"Our preparation going into the third periods from now on, whether we have the lead or not, we gotta play right until the end. And if we have leads, we don't need to score goals. We just need to keep them out of our net."
Chicago opened the scoring with 12 seconds remaining in the first period on Brandon Saad's seventh goal of the season, with assists by Niklas Hjalmarsson and Toews.
Kahne got his team-leading 19th goal of the season at 12:10 of the second on a wrist shot that made the score 2-0. Kahne's goal was unassisted.
In addition to having a 2-0 lead, the Hawks dominated the Predators in shots through the first two periods (27-11), including a lopsided 18-4 margin in shots in the second period.
Nashville lit the lamp at 3:56 of the third period when Legwand tallied his ninth goal of the season. In almost a carbon copy of Legwand's goal, Beck scored his second goal of the season at 7:26 by slipping the puck past Crawford's right side to tie the score at 2.
"The way we were playing it almost seemed like we kind of relaxed a little bit (in the third) and they took advantage," Kane said. "We had a couple long shifts in our end and they tied up the game. Obviously not the recipe for success, but it's nice winning in the shootout."
In the only other meeting between the two teams this season, Crawford and the Blackhawks beat the Predators 3-0 for Crawford's first shutout of the season.
Even with Sunday's sheer domination of the Red Wings in Detroit, the Blackhawks came into Monday's game still having lost three of their last five games and five of their last 10.
Nashville, meanwhile, has now lost its last three games after winning its previous three.
"It's tough, another loss," Rinne said. "Right after the game, it's always tough because it feels like a loss and you don't really appreciate the point even though it's a huge point for us. It's been happening way too much for us, but we have to be happy tonight. We didn't play well and we got away with one point. I think that's a positive thing."
NOTES: Before the game, the Blackhawks announced they had acquired veteran center Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round pick in the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Handzus has played 939 games in his NHL career, with 180 goals and 281 assists. This will be Handzus' second stint with Chicago, having been acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in 2006. Less than a year later, he became a free agent and signed with the Los Angeles Kings. With the return of injured Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp still uncertain, Handzus gives the Hawks maturity and veteran leadership. In 27 games with San Jose this season, he had just one goal and one assist. "(Handzus) gives us options," Quenneville said. "We got a guy who can play different positions. He's big, faceoffs, experience, great person. I'm sure he's excited about coming here with an opportunity (to play more). He's very useful in a lot of ways and we'll see where he gets a go, but it certainly adds to our depth." ... Attendance was 21,306. ... The Predators return home to host Columbus on Tuesday, the start of seven of their next eight games on home ice, including a rematch with the Blackhawks in Nashville on Saturday, followed by a return trip to Chicago on Sunday for the third game with the Blackhawks in one week. The two teams meet once more in Chicago on April 19. Chicago, meanwhile, hosts St. Louis on Thursday before traveling to Nashville for Saturday's game with the Predators.

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