CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 27: Antti Raanta #31 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates after a victory over the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 27, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Blackhawks defeated the Flames 3-2. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
With revenge on the brain, the Chicago Blackhawks used first period goals by Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane to knock off the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Tuesday night.
We’ll have more coverage of the game throughout the day, but for now, here are Tuesday’s Three Stars:
Third Star: Duncan Keith
Going up against one of the league’s best defensemen in Shea Weber, Keith proved once again that he belongs in that conversation with his performance on Tuesday. Keith had a goal and an assist in the first period of the game, and he ended up with six shots on goal and three blocked shots in a winning effort for Chicago.
Keith’s play on the goal illustrated the aggressiveness with which he has played on the offensive side of the ice this season. Just over a minute into the game, the Hawks were coming into the zone when Marian Hossa pulled up at the blue line. Keith ended up rushing up the ice at that moment and grabbed a pass from Hossa along the line.
Instead of stopping and trying to cycle the puck around, Keith took advantage of an open lane and fired a perfect shot towards goaltender Carter Hutton, beating him just past his blocker to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
That ability to make decisions on the fly has been an element of Keith’s game for years, and it was a great start for the Hawks that he was able to get such a quality chance so early in the game.
Second Star: Antti Raanta
Already off to the best career start for a Hawks goaltender since Dominik Hasek was patrolling the crease in the Windy City, Raanta added another excellent game to his ledger on Tuesday.
In the game, Raanta ended up stopping 27 of the 28 shots that he faced, and he picked up his seventh win in nine starts since taking over for Nikolai Khabibulin as the team’s back-up goalie.
Raanta was at his absolute best in the first period as the Predators gained energy after the Hawks’ early goal. In three different power plays, Raanta was all over his crease, centering up shooters, controlling rebounds, and bailing out his defenders as they tried unsuccessfully to corral the puck.
The only play on which Raanta was beaten came after Brent Seabrook failed to clear the zone, and Raanta had to try to contend with a point shot from Shea Weber, a tall order for any goalie.
Even still, Raanta managed to hold Nashville to just that one goal, and his play late in the game on the Predators’ last power play of the game hammered home just how comfortable he has gotten in the crease for Chicago as time has worn on.
First Star: Patrick Kane
With the way Kane has been playing lately, it is no small wonder that he is keeping pace with Sidney Crosby in the NHL points race, and he continued that excellent play as the Hawks knocked off the Predators Tuesday.
In the game, Kane scored a first period goal and ended up with three shots on goal in 16:39 of ice time in the contest. That goal wasn’t just a regular ole tally though. It was something much more spectacular:
That forehand-to-backhand deke is a move that not many NHL players can pull off, and the awareness required to see the opening above Hutton’s shoulder takes a lot of patience and skill to find. Kane performed both the move and the shot in one fluid motion, and his quick hands gave the Hawks the lead back after playing on their heels for much of the first period.
If Kane can continue to contribute the way he has been lately, then he very well could knock off Crosby for the Art Ross, and other hardware like the Hart and an Olympic gold medal could be in his future.