CHICAGO – Chicago coach Joel Quenneville’s unusual choice for the shootout paid off against Nashville on Monday.
Defenceman Michal Rozsival scored in the fifth round of the tiebreaker after Jonathan Toews also connected in the shootout, and the Blackhawks pulled out a 3-2 win over Predators.
Rozsival, who hasn’t scored a goal this season, beat Pekka Rinne with a high backhand shot in his first career shootout attempt.
“I was kind of lucky in practices for shootouts,” Rozsival said. “I guess it’s good to see the coach put trust in me.”
Rozsival skated straight down the slot, went to his backhand, then lifted the puck over Rinne’s right shoulder.
“That’s the one move that I have,” Rozsival said. “I’ve been kind of lucky in practice, so I went with it. It’s nice to contribute offensively, even though it’s during the shootout like this.”
Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 19th goal and rookie Brandon Saad scored in regulation to help the Blackhawks win their second straight. Kane has points in 10 of his past 11 games, posting seven goals and nine assists during the span.
The Blackhawks played again without two of their top forwards, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, who are out with upper-body injuries. Hossa missed his sixth game and Sharp sat out his 11th.
And Chicago centre Dave Bolland, along with Nashville left wing Gabriel Bourque, left Monday’s game with injuries.
So Quenneville tried a new option in the shootout after calling on Toews, Kane, Andrew Shaw and Saad.
“I thought he went to his signature move tonight,” Quenneville said. “I thought he made a great play.”
The Predators were outshot 27-11 through the first two periods, but stormed back in the third to erase a 2-0 deficit on goals by Dave Legwand and rookie Taylor Beck and force overtime.
“We carried the pace and controlled the game for 40 minutes, and once you take a few shifts off or aren’t sharp like you’ve been all game, they’ll take advantage of it,” Toews said. “We made a few mistakes and got caught flat on our heels, and it’s a tie game.”
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 25 saves as the Blackhawks improved to 27-5-3 and a league-leading 57 points, one more than Pittsburgh.
Rinne was sharp for a second straight game, stopping 38 shots through overtime. Craig Smith scored in the second round of the shootout for Nashville, but the Predators dropped their third straight (0-1-2).
Nashville lost 1-0 in overtime in its previous game on Saturday, with Rinne stopping 23 shots.
“We didn’t play our best in the first and second, but we certainly brought it in the third,” Beck said. “We easily could have got a third one there and won it in regulation.”
But the Predators, who are in a fight for a playoff berth in the Western Conference, had to settle for one point.
“It’s been happening way too much for us, but we have to be happy tonight,” Rinne said. “We didn’t play well and we got away with one point. I think that’s a positive thing.”
Before the game, the Blackhawks acquired centre Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks for a fourth-round draft pick. Handzus had one goal and one assist in 28 games this season, and is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Bolland originally went to the dressing room briefly midway through the first period after blocking a shot by Nashville defenceman Shea Weber. Following a faceoff in the Chicago zone, Weber’s drive from the point struck Bolland in the abdomen, but he returned minutes later for two more shifts in the first.
Bolland then left again following two shifts in the second. Quenneville said the forward is day to day.
The Predators said Bourque suffered an upper-body injury.
Saad opened the scoring on a screened shot with 11.3 seconds left in the first following a faceoff in the Nashville zone.
Toews won the draw, pulling it back to Niklas Hjalmarsson at the right point. He passed to Saad, who fired low from midway down the right boards with Toews and Nashville defenceman Jonathon Blum tied up at the edge of the crease.
Kane made it 2-0 with during 4-on-4 with 7:50 left in the second.
He picked up a loose puck near the Chicago blue line, then skated down the right wing on a 2-on-1 break with Toews. Kane took the shot himself, and beat Rinne from the right circle.
The Predators were dominated and outshot 18-4 in the second period, but bounced back and took charge in the third following Legwand’s goal at 3:56.
Nashville’s Victor Bartley slid a slow shot on goal from centre ice, and Crawford tried to smother the puck with his glove. But Legwand darted in between two Chicago defenders and poked the puck free and into the net to cut it to 2-1.
Beck tied it at 2-all 3:30 later from the left of the crease.
After taking a perfect cross-ice feed from Patric Hornqvist, Beck fired a one-time shot from 15 feet. Crawford sprawled and appeared to have stopped the shot, but the puck squirted free and barely crossed the goal line.
NOTES: Both Hossa and Sharp participated in Chicago’s morning skate on Monday and could return Thursday against St. Louis. “They’re real close,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. … Nashville C Mike Fisher missed his second game with upper-body injury. Prior to being sidelined, he had an eight-game point streak (five goals, four assists), his longest as a Predator. … Handzus was benched the past six games with San Jose as the Sharks tried to get more speed in the lineup. His biggest contributions came in shootouts where he converted three of seven chances. He played eight games for Chicago in 2006-07 before being sidelined by a season-ending knee injury. … To make room for Handzus, the Blackhawks sent LW Brandon Bollig of the AHL the Blackhawks.