Michal Rozsival getting selected for the shootout seemed like a surprise to everyone. Well, everyone not on the Chicago Blackhawks’ bench, anyway.
“Everyone was saying, ‘Put him in, put him in,’ the last few games,” Patrick Kane said. “He’s one of those guys in practice who seems to score every time on the move he pulled out there.”
And Rozsival scored again on that move when it counted most.
Kane scored his 19th goal of the season, Rozsival notched the shootout winner in the fifth round as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 on Monday night. It ended up being a positive night for the Blackhawks, but they lost center Dave Bolland again. Bolland blocked a shot off his foot midway through the first period and tried to come back a few times, but was done by the second period. Coach Joel Quenneville listed him as day-to-day.
The Blackhawks maintain a four-point lead the Anaheim Ducks, who beat the Dallas Stars tonight. And the veteran defenseman got them there.
“He deserved the chance because in practice he’s unbelievable. He scores every time,” Jonathan Toews said. “He has great hands, great patience with the puck. He waited for the goaltender to make the first move. It was a great goal by him, and a great stop by (Corey Crawford) to finish it off.”
Yes, it all ended well. But this one got a little more interesting than originally thought. Corey Crawford who got the victory stopping 25 of 27 and four of the five shots he saw in the shootout, had some shaky moments in the third period. He thought he fell on a Predators attempt early in the third but didn't, and David Legwand punched it through to cut the Blackhawks' lead to 2-1. The Predators kept going from that point on, outplaying the Blackhawks throughout the third.
“It was obviously a brutal misplay by me,” Crawford said. “I've been taking a lot of pride in not giving up bad goals this year, and that’s one that got away from me. I did my best to shake it off. Obviously you don’t want to give it up. It gave them momentum there. They were all over us and in our zone. It’s because of that goal. We pretty much shut them down (before that). I don’t remember one shift before that when they had us hemmed in our zone. It was just a brutal play. But I was able to battle back there and make some key saves after that.”
It was another cautionary tale of keeping the foot on the gas in the third period, and how any error can turn into the opposition’s momentum. In that third, the Predators outscored the Blackhawks 2-0 and outshot them 15-9.
“That wasn’t the way we wanted to finish in the third, but it’s a recurring theme lately with teams coming at us hard in the third period. And we have to make sure it’s our best period going forward,” Toews said. “It has to be at the forefront of our mindset, our preparation going into third periods from now on, whether we have the lead or not. We have to play right to the end. If we have leads, we don’t have to score goals. We just have to keep them out of our net.”
Quenneville concurred, especially against the tenacious Predators.
“Against Nashville, they’re in it right to the end. We had control and here they come again,” he said. “It’s the way they are. They’re relentless. It’s the kind of game you can get beat at. Hopefully there’s a lesson there that you have to be relentless against them.”
The Blackhawks learned their lesson in time on Monday night. Crawford rebounded from his mistake. And Rozsival turned his practice shootout prowess into real-game points.
“I think he’s made that move on me about 12 times this year in practice and scored every time,” Crawford said of Rozsival. “He’s been pretty good in practice; he’s been tough to stop. I think Q saw that in practice and decided to give him a try. It was definitely a huge relief to get that win.”