For the first time in quite a long time, the Blackhawks played a complete, 60-minute team game. They might have picked up one of their best wins of the season Tuesday against the Predators with a hard-fought 2-1 victory behind Cam Ward’s 30-save performance.
Ward played as the Blackhawks’ No. 1 netminder after Corey Crawford was placed on injured reserve with another concussion.
The Blackhawks dominated throughout the first period and showed signs they were going to score first. But Nashville’s Kevin Fiala broke the deadlock when he picked a corner and fired the puck over Ward’s blocker with 33 seconds left in the period.
As it turned out, the goal served as Ward’s only blemish during the game.
The Blackhawks didn’t let the late period goal get them down as they have many times this season. After relentless attacks and rushes on Nashville’s defensive zone, Gustav Forsling and Erik Gustafsson each scored in the second period.
Forsling broke through with his second goal of the season after he rang the puck off the post and in with 4:28 to go in the second frame. Gustafsson scored 17 seconds into a power play when his shot deflected off Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis’ left arm and into the net.
Chicago forward Marcus Kruger left the game with 3:29 left in the second after he collided with Predators winger Ryan Hartman’s left elbow. Kruger suffered a concussion on the play and later received stitches.
Where has that effort been from Ward?
Ward’s struggles this season are well-documented, and a lot of his bad outings haven’t been helped by a lackluster defense. Ward was brought in for this exact scenario. Crawford’s health and concussion issues arise again, and he takes over with Collin Delia as his backup on an “emergency basis.”
Ward hasn’t looked great, but Tuesday he showed why he won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006. The Blackhawks need more of that effort if they’re going to climb out of the basement they’re in.
It’s a team game
Lately, the Blackhawks haven’t had many “team games,” where each phase of the team compliments each other. Tuesday was different, for once it felt like watching the Blackhawks of old who won games despite the odds. They beat one of the best teams in the NHL, even though Nashville is banged up.
This win is something to build on going forward, perhaps it could be a turning point into making this campaign respectable or something.
Forsling to remember
I remember watching Gustav Forsling play for Sweden at World Juniors with excitement. Forsling seemed like he could be the next Niklas Hjalmarsson because he skated well, made good plays with the puck and was a contributor on offensive end. His development hasn’t been the smoothest, with multiple trips to Rockford throughout the past three seasons.
He seems to be getting more of a chance under head coach Jeremy Colliton and he rewarded Colliton’s trust Tuesday.