NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Kruger and Jonathan Toews each scored 66 seconds apart in the second period, and the Blackhawks remained the NHL’s lone undefeated team in regulation by beating the Nashville Predators, 3-0, Sunday.
Patrick Kane also added a goal in the third as the Hawks wrapped up their season-high six-game road trip with their fourth straight win and improved to 10-0-2 overall and 8-0-2 away from Chicago. Goalie Corey Crawford got the Hawks’ first shutout of the season and the sixth of his career making 17 saves.
Nashville lost a 2-1 overtime game at Minnesota on Saturday night. Back home to start a four-game homestand, the Predators had their 17th consecutive sold-out crowd. But the Predators reverted back to their early offensive woes struggling to shoot the puck at the net.
They missed their best chance at scoring when Nick Spaling’s backhander sent the puck sliding across the crease before hitting off the far post at 10:02 of the first period. Nashville managed only three shots on goal in the first.
Chicago had the advantage of a couple days off after a 6-2 win at Phoenix on Thursday night, and the Blackhawks had plenty of fans on hand as they took the first of five games between these Central Division rivals this shortened season.
They got some nice payback after going 2-4-0 against Nashville in losing last season’s series for the first time since 2006-07. The Predators outscored Chicago 25-16 last season and had won four of the previous six games between these teams in Nashville.
The rest showed in the second as the Blackhawks almost camped out in front of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.
Rinne had won four straight starts and hadn’t allowed an even-strength goal since Jan. 28. But that streak ended at 316 minutes, 40 seconds when Nashville defenseman Roman Josi kicked the puck, trying to clear it, right to Kruger near the high slot. Kruger snapped a shot over Rinne’s stick for his second goal of the season at 6:14.
Chicago also got a bit of luck as Duncan Keith’s shot from the right circle deflected off Toews in front of Rinne and went up and over the Nashville goalie into the net at 7:20 for a 2-0 lead. It was Toews’ sixth goal of the season and the 150th of his career.
The Blackhawks wound up with 27 shots, including Kane’s ninth goal this season. He scored at 4:27 of the third after skating up the left boards and shooting at the net, sneaking the puck past Rinne for the 3-0 lead and yet another Chicago win.
Notes: The Blackhawks will play their third home game Tuesday night when they host Anaheim at the United Center to start a seven-game homestand. ... These teams won’t play again until April 1 for the first of four games in 19 days. ... Chicago went 18-18-5 on the road last season. ... Chicago came in with a league-best 33 goals on the road. ... Kane came in with 17 points in nine road games, best in the NHL. He now has eight goals and 10 assists.