CHICAGO – For the second straight game, Viktor Stalberg proved to be the difference for the Blackhawks.
Stalberg scored at 2:18 of overtime and Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist in regulation to help Chicago beat the Nashville Predators 5-4 on Monday night.
Stalberg rushed down the right wing on a 3-on-2 break, but pulled up with a move that made Nashville defenceman Jack Hillen turn the wrong way. Stalberg then cut in front and fired a shot past Pekka Rinne for his third goal in two games.
The Swedish left wing had scored goals—including the game-winner—on consecutive shifts in the third period in Chicago’s 5-2 win over Columbus on Saturday. On Monday, his speed paid off as the Blackhawks and Predators skated 4-on-4 in overtime.
“We were out there with maybe, their third (defensive pairing),” Stalberg said. “I was able to take it inside and get a shot on net.
“I wish we could play it all the time,” said Stalberg of the NHL’s 4-on-4 overtime format. “But I don’t think I’ll get that suggestion through for a while. It’s fun to play and it suits, obviously, my game I think.”
Stalberg has connected in consecutive contests after missing the first three games of the season with a left knee injury, then posting just one assist in the next six.
Nick Leddy and Bryan Bickell also scored for the Blackhawks (7-2-2), who got three assists from Marian Hossa. But through regulation, Kane was Chicago’s most visible player.
“He was special tonight, for sure,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said “I’d like to know the total possession time he had. It was a different level.”
Chicago’s Duncan Keith, the 2010 Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenceman, left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. Quenneville said Keith is out day-to-day.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Craig Smith and Dave Legwand also connected for the Predators (5-4-2).
“We’ll take the point,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “I liked our resiliency, I liked a lot of things we did, but I didn’t like the way we mismanaged the game in terms of twice 5-on-3 long penalty kills.”
The Blackhawks went 0-for-7 on the power play and haven’t scored on their last 18 man advantages. On Monday they failed to convert two 5-on-3s, including one that ran 1:34.
But Chicago came close.
“Our penalty killing was outstanding, with (Rinne) being outstanding,” Trotz said. He made some unbelievable saves.
“When you take 5-on-3s, you’re going to give up a ton of shots, a ton of chances, especially with the talent they put out there. That’s not chicken liver, that’s an all-star team.”
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 24 saves. Rinne, who has started all of Nashville’s games this season, had 30.
Hornqvist opened the scoring just 26 seconds in after Crawford skated behind the net and whiffed trying to clear Kevin Klein’s dump-in.
The puck slid along the boards to Nashville’s Dave Legwand, who shot it off the left post. Hornqvist popped in the rebound before Crawford could get back in position.
Kane tied it at 1 with 49 seconds left in the first on a quick shot from the left circle that slipped between Rinne’s pads.
Smith put Nashville ahead 2-1 at 6:00 of the second when he was left uncovered in the slot. Martin Erat carried the puck into the Chicago zone, drew three Blackhawks defenders toward him, then dished a backhand pass to Smith.
Leddy tied it at 2 midway through the period. After pinching in to the left circle, he took a pass from Kane and fired a shot over Rinne’s left shoulder.
Hornqvist’ second goal, during a 5-on-3 power-play with 1:12 remaining in the second, put the Predators back in front, 3-2. He beat Crawford with a low, 30-foot shot from the slot.
Kane tied it 3-all at 5:01 of the third on a shot from the right circle that slipped past Rinne’s blocker on the short side.
Bickell ripped in a shot from the right circle with 6:52 to go in the third to give Chicago a 4-3 lead. But Legwand responded 1:41 later after Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook partially fanned while trying to clear a rebound from the slot.
Rinne made a point-blank glove save on Jonathan Toews 30 seconds into overtime.
Notes: Chicago LW Dan Carcillo sat out the second game of a two-game suspension due to an illegal check on Hurricanes D Joni Pitkanen on Friday night in Carolina. Chicago D Sean O’Donnell and LW Rostislav Olesz were healthy scratches. … Sitting out with injuries for Nashville were C Mike Fisher (head), LW Sergei Kostitsyn (lower-body) and LW Nick Spaling (lower-body). … Rinne has played all but 40 minutes in Nashville’s 11 games so far.