The blackhawks started their post Christmas schedule like they finished their pre-Christmas one, with a convincing road win versus a key divisional opponent, this time beating Nashville 4-1 in the music city.
The hawks started off well, showing lots of jump and creating offensive chances. Bryan Bickell, in the lineup for Kris Versteeg, who was out with an undisclosed injury, had a good chance just over 5 minutes in, when he was set up by Byfuglien on a 2 on 1. Bickell got a point blank shot on Rinne, who stacked his pads to make the save, however, the hawks drew a penalty on the play. They threatened on the powerplay, but failed to convert, though drew another penalty just as the first one expired.
This time, the hawks pp struck, with Jonathan Toews intercepting Marcel Goc's clearing attempt in the high slot & dropping it back to the point to Byfuglien, who wristed a shot that found its way through traffic and into the Nashville net, with Brouwer parked in front of Rinne. 1-0 Chicago. It was Byfuglien's 3rd goal vs. Nashville in 5 games this year.
The hawks outshot the preds, 15-8 in the first and started the second again coming out hard & putting pressure on the Nashville net, though Ladd took an early high sticking minor that the hawks killed off with no damage done. Later Toews was set up alone in front of Rinne by Kane, however, he was in close & had little room to maneuver, other than to get off a harmless shoot, with Rinne standing his ground to make the save.
A few moments later, Brent Seabrook at the left point, misplayed a pass at the Nashville line & lost it to Martin Erat, who broke in alone on Huet with Keith in pursuit. Keith managed to get a stick on the Nashville forward, drawing a delayed penalty call, but Erat continued bearing down on a retreating Huet, trying to beat him five hole. Huet made the initial save, but kept sliding back right into the hawk net, with the puck following him in, while the referee, positioned to Huet's left, lost sight of the puck & blew the whistle, waiving off the goal, once he realized the puck had entered the net. However, replays subsequently clearly showed that the puck had entered the net before the whistle blew and replay officials overturned the call on the ice, apparently ignoring any "intent to blow the whistle" on the part of the referee and the game was tied, against the clear run of play.
The hawks regained their composure and about 5 minutes later, Kane & Brouwer broke in on a 2 on 1, with Kane using Brouwer as a decoy he fired a wrister high glove side with Rinne having no chance and it was 2-1 Chicago.
Just over a minute later, also off the rush, the hawks made it 3-1. Tomas Kopecky took a drop pass from Bryan Campbell & moved in to the left circle & fired a shot which Rinne stopped, however he gave a rebound which Kopecky recovered & sent toward the net a second time - the puck slid over to Andrew Ladd alone to the left side of Rinne & he lifted a sharp angle shot over the sprawled pred goaltender.
The hawks took a penalty later, but effectively killed it off by a drawing a penalty of their own with some good work by Toews & Fraser in the offensive zone. Shortly after their abbreviated powerplay, the hawks struck again when Sharp fired home a rebound off a Duncan Keith point shot that apparently deflected of Kopecky, denying Kane an assist for his pass to Keith at the point. 4-1 Chicago at the end of 2, with the hawks again outshooting the preds in the 2nd period, 16-10.
In the 3rd, the hawks put it on cruise control, killing off a minor high sticking call on Hendry (who was in the lineup for Hjalmarsson), outshooting Nashville 9-8 and 40 to 26 on the game. Brent Seabrook threw a big body check midway through the 3rd on Nick Spaling, but also ended up flying hard into the boards in front of the hawk bench. He was slow to get up, and looked a bit woozy as he headed off to the bench, but did return later in the game.
With the win, the hawks moved 6 points up on their closest division rival and meet the preds in a rematch at the UC, their final meeting of the regular season on Sunday.