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Marcus Kruger scores 1st goal in 47 games

The Hawks’ shutdown center got his first regular season score since April 2015 on Friday night in Nashville.

Marcus Kruger is a fantastic defensive player, but he had a rough go of things on the offensive end last season. With just four assists in 41 games during an injury-shortened campaign, Kruger largely went quiet on that side of the ice. The Hawks needed more this season after re-signing him, which is why he’s opened the year with better scoring talent.

On Friday, Kruger broke his extended scoring drought just minutes into the game against the Predators thanks to a gorgeous pass through the neutral zone from Marian Hossa.

It’s Kruger’s first goal since Game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals, and his first regular season goal since April 2, 2015 against the Canucks. Hossa and Ryan Hartman got assists.

Hossa spent the opener against St. Louis on the top line with Jonathan Toews, but Joel Quenneville said before the season that he was considering putting him next to Kruger. It took just one game for Q to decide to make that change, and against Nashville, we quickly saw what he might have in mind.

A line with Kruger and Hossa can still be fierce defensively, but there’s a lot more offensive ability than when he was skating with, say, Andrew Desjardins and Brandon Mashinter. The Hawks need him to score more to justify that $3.08 million price tag, and early on, we’re seeing signs that Kruger might be able to do that.