Toews scores on breakaway in OT as Blackhawks beat Predators
For the second straight game, the Chicago Blackhawks took lots of shots, but didn’t have much to show for it.
At least this time, Jonathan Toews made sure the Blackhawks got the goal that finally made the difference.
Toews scored to cap a short-handed breakaway at 3:26 of overtime to give Chicago a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
With Patrick Sharp off for tripping, Toews stole the puck from Nashville’s Roman Josi just inside the Chicago blue line. He raced down left wing, cut to the slot and was stopped by Carter Hutton on his first shot, but Toews managed to push the rebound under Hutton’s pads for his first score this season.
"Nice to get that win, but it was another kind of frustrating game where we have energy, and we can’t quite seem to get that flow that we’re looking for," Toews said.
The Blackhawks outshot the Predators 37-20, finishing with a shooting advantage against an opponent for the second straight game. Chicago outshot Calgary 50-18 on Wednesday in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Toews emphasized the Blackhawks need to do more than fire away and even dominate territorially, as they did for the first two periods against Nashville and almost 60 minutes against the Flames.
"I don’t think it’s about the initial shot, it’s more about the second effort, having traffic at the net," Toews said. "We (need) some ugly goals, get some offense going."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville offered the same diagnosis: His talented team has been playing too pretty.
"In this league, if you don’t have traffic, you’re never gonna score," he said. "You generate goals by going to the net, and how ugly they become after that. That’s the recipe for scoring."
Johnny Oduya got his first goal of the season in the first period for Chicago and Corey Crawford had 19 saves.
Shea Weber scored his third goal for Nashville and Hutton stopped 35 shots. Hutton was making his first start of the season in place of Pekka Rinne, who started the Predators’ first four games and had a 2-0 shutout at Winnipeg on Friday night.
"Giving up a breakaway in OT on a power play is obviously a little tough, Hutton said. "I didn’t think we played our best tonight, but I thought in the third we came out and gave a real great effort, especially back-to-back nights."
In this one, the Predators took control of the game for much of the third period with up-tempo skating and persistent forechecking after being dominated through the first two periods and outshot 23-7 after 40 minutes.
It was tied 1-all after one period despite Chicago holding a 12-3 advantage on shots.
Both teams scored on their first shots of the game.
Oduya connected just 1:49 in when he skated in from the left point and leaned into a low shot from the top of the circle that beat Hutton between the pads.
Weber tied it with a power-play goal at 11:17 shortly after serving a cross-checking call and exiting the penalty box. His drive from the left circle appeared to strike Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival, then deflected upward and over Crawford’s shoulder.
Chicago outshot Nashville 11-4 in the second, and Hutton made several tough in-close saves late in the period to keep it tied.
The Predators picked up the pace in the third, forcing the Blackhawks into turnovers in the Chicago zone and tested Crawford. He made a point-blank pad save on Craig Smith 4:45 into the period when both Smith and Colin Wilson were alone in front of the net following a Chicago giveaway.
NOTES: Rozsival played his first game after suffering a upper-body injury in training camp last month. … Chicago LW Kris Versteeg, who sustained a lower-body injury in practice two days before the season opener, has resumed skating. … Hutton started his career in the Blackhawks’ organization, but appeared in only one NHL contest with Chicago before signing with the Predators as a free agent in 2013. He was 20-11-4 with Nashville last season. … The Predators didn’t arrive at their Chicago hotel until about 2:30 a.m. Saturday following their win at Winnipeg.