Hawks struggle, then beat Preds anyway 5-4

OK, after this one,you would have to think that THIS IS the Blackhawks year. The Hawks returned home after a 4-1 win in Nashville Saturday night and the same Predators outplayed the Hawks for much of the rematch Sunday evening, but that did not matter. Nashville scored first, took a 2-1 lead into the third period, then rallied for two quick goals to wipe out a 4-2 Hawk lead. Didn’t matter! Patrick Kane’s second goal of the game with :44 left was the game winner as the Blackhawks beat Nashville again, this time 5-4 to increase their Central Division lead to eight points over the second place Preds. Antti Niemi had a rough night,yet he made some huge saves and also got a break or two. Marcel Goc put Nashville ahead with a tip in just 1:35 into the game. But Kane tied it on a tough angle shot at 6:55. The Predators regained the lead with the only goal of the second period by Martin Erat off a nice feed from former Blackhawk Steve Sullivan at the :47 mark. Then came a wild third stanza. John Madden took over the game with the tying goal on a breakaway pass from Andrew Ladd and he deked Dan Ellis for his 6th of the season. Madden then gave the Hawks the lead for the first time with a slap shot that went through Ellis’s “five hole” at 12:12. The Hawks went on the power play when Dan Hamhuis was sent off for tripping at 13:15 and Brian Campbell made it 4-2 with his 4th of the season which seemed to put the Hawks in total control. But these Preds battled back with two goals within :57 of one another.First Hamhuis tipped in a Jason Arnott shot at 15:38, then Cody Franson tied it and stunned the sellout crowd with a slap shot that went past a screened Niemi at 16:35. It looked like overtime was likely until Jonathan Toews held the zone,passed to Duncan Keith who fired it toward the net,and Kane wristed it past Ellis for the game winner.

NOTES—The capacity crowd was 21,746…..The Hawks next play the Stars in Dallas Tuesday evening.