by Scott King
The Blackhawks were looking to extend a two-game winning streak to three Sunday night at the United Center vs. the Nashville Predators.
Artemi Panarin opened the scoring with a one-timer from Patrick Kane on the left circle at 7:45 into first period. It was his 17th goal of the season. The play was almost a mirror image of how Panarin has scored most of his goals this season.
“I think that was a fortunate one,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “I think you don’t want to go too far out there. I like it when he’s inside the dot, but he’s got a great release and the quickness of it, sometimes the distraction of the pass coming to him, keeps the goalie a little frozen and makes for a longer travel for him. But tremendous shot, couldn’t put it in a better spot.”
The Preds answered back 45 seconds later. Mattias Ekholm beat Michal Kempny and Brent Seabrook before putting one past Corey Crawford. Niklas Hjalmarsson got the lead back for the Hawks later in the period. It was his fifth goal of the season, which leads all Hawks defensemen. Kane picked up another assist on the play.
Austin Watson scored early in the third period to make it 2-2. Ryan Hartman knocked in a rebound from a Richard Panik between-the-legs shot for the go ahead Hawks goal with 8:11 remaining in the game. “Pans (Richard Panik) made a good play at the net,” Hartman said. “I don’t really know how it came to me, but I was trying to get to the net. I just felt it go off my hips, a lucky one.”
Late in the period, Hartman scored on an empty Predators’ net not once, but twice, giving him his first career hat trick. Patrick Kane set him up for his third goal, making the final score 5-2 Hawks.
Following the game, Hartman discussed the moment before his third goal:
“Kaner came up to me and said ‘you got two tonight?’ And I said ‘Yeah.’ He said ‘Alright, I’m going to get it to you,’ and he did. It was a good game overall.”
“I didn’t know he got that second one,” Kane said. “Going out for the faceoff there at the end I just kind of looked at him and asked if he had two goals, he said “Yes.’
“Good for him. I think it’s one of those things, you get your first hat trick and three or four days from now no one is even going to remember that you had two empty nets. He’s been a big player for us this year, he’s been very productive, he plays a good solid hockey game that we’ve been missing for a little bit. He’s physical, he draws penalties, and it seems like he’s always on the puck, so he’s had a great season so far.”
The assist on Hartman’s final goal was Kane’s seventh point in his last three games.
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