NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A sliver of open net appeared over Carter Hutton’s left shoulder and when you’re in a zone like Patrick Kane, a sliver is all that is needed.
Another highlight-reel goal by Kane helped the Blackhawks exact some revenge on the Predators as the defending Stanley Cup champions skated to a 3-1 victory Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Hawks won their second game in a row and fifth in their last six games as they defeated Hutton, a former prospect in their system, and the Predators to avenge arguably their worst beating of the season, a 7-2 shellacking by Nashville on Nov. 11.
In addition to Kane’s goal, which came when he wheeled toward the Predators net and flipped a wicked backhander into the top of the net despite good positioning by Hutton late in the first period, Duncan Keith had a goal and an assist and Nick Leddy also scored. Antti Raanta was the recipient of the offense as the rookie goaltender improved to 7-1-1 in 10 appearances this season. He allowed only an early first-period power-play goal by Shea Weber to continue to make up for the absence of starting netminder Corey Crawford.
The Hawks’ power play continued to roll as they went 2-for-5 with a man advantage and extended their streak of games with at least one score while up a man to 10.
The game was 1 minute 29 seconds old when the Hawks struck on their first shot of the game as Keith fired a rocket from the high slot off the rush that whistled past Hutton to the stick side.
On the ensuing draw, the Hawks were penalized for delay of game due to a faceoff violation and Weber made them pay with a cannon shot of a one-timer from the top of left circle.
Shortly before intermission, Kane continued his dazzling ways. The winger used the open ice to work a give-and-go with Patrick Sharp that ended with Kane finding just enough room to score his team-leading ninth power-play goal. It also extended Kane’s points streak to 10 games during which he has five goals and 13 assists.
Midway through the second, the Hawks’ power play kept humming when Hutton allowed a big rebound of a Brandon Saad shot and Leddy knocked it home.
The Hawks had their full complement of forwards at their disposal for the first time since Oct. 24 as Bryan Bickell returned from a 14-game absence with what a source said was a left knee injury.
“Now that we have everybody at least you can try things,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “How it’s all going to play out, we’ll see. You get some guys on the left and the right sides that can flip and you can move guys around. I don’t think we lose a lot of what we’re looking for and that’s all lines contributing.”
Michael Kostka, Michal Rozsival were healthy scratches for the Hawks, who entered having won four of their last five games.
Bickell skated on the left wing on a line with center Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. Saad shifted to the right side after playing much of the season on the left. Sheldon Brookbank, who had been filling in at forward, moved back to defense.
“(Bickell) has got a presence,” Quenneville said. “He give us some size and some physicality. (This) gives us some options. We can put Brookbank back on the point and he can play his position. Saad, we’ll put him over on the right side and hopefully that can be a good line for us knowing they all bring a little bit something different as a group of three.