The Chicago Blackhawks’ chances at a wild card spot tilted in the right direction again Tuesday with a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. David Kampf and Vinnie Hinostroza each potted goals and Anton Forsberg saved 42 of 43 shots in a crucial victory coming out of the All-Star break.
It goes without saying that the Blackhawks’ margin for error is thin right now, especially with opponents from the Central Division. These are games that they need to win pretty much every time from here on out, and while no single matchup is really “must win,” this felt like one of those nights where the team needed to come out on top.
Forsberg was the big leader for the Blackhawks in this game. He was unbelievable other than a sloppy mistake with the puck behind the net that led directly to the Predators’ only goal. Other than that, goaltending proved to be the biggest reason Nashville didn’t tie this game before the end of regulation.
While the Jeff Glass ride was fun while it lasted, there should be no doubt who the Blackhawks’ primary netminder is without Corey Crawford. Forsberg has a .936 save percentage and 4-2-0 record over his last six starts after going .902 and 1-5-3 to start the season.
Kampf and Hinostroza also teamed up on the fourth line for a very good night that included both of the team’s goals. Kampf scored his second goal of the season early in the game with a nifty turnaround snipe after Vinnie Hinostroza poked a loose puck his way.
Hinostroza sniped in a one-timer off a dish from Nick Schmaltz.
One sequence that surely would’ve garnered Joel Quenneville’s ire if the Hawks lost was a missed delay of game penalty in the second period. The infraction came just seven seconds into a Chicago power play and should’ve given the team a 5-on-3 advantage, but the referees inexplicably missed it.
Quenneville was ... not happy.
Thankfully Quenneville can leave Nashville in a good mood.
The Blackhawks are now four points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Los Angeles Kings are also ahead of them in the standings, which explains why the odds of actually reaching the postseason remain thin.
But winning games is the only thing the Hawks can do to salvage their season now, so it’s good that they’ve started to do that. We’ll see if this team has what it takes to make things interesting down the stretch.
- Anton Forsberg (CHI) — 42 saves on 43 shots
- Vinnie Hinostroza (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 SOG
- David Kampf (CHI) — 1 goal