Nick Leddy (Getty Images)
Nick Leddy scored twice and Andrew Shaw picked up the game winning goal in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Washington Capitals by a 4-3 margin on Saturday night at the United Center.
The victory gave Chicago a 4-0-2 record during the preseason, and gives them a nice boost of confidence as they prepare for Tuesday's regular season opener against these Capitals at the UC.
Without further adieu, here are Saturday's Three Stars:
Third Star: Marcus Kruger
Kruger may not have had the most gaudy statistics on the ice on Saturday night, but he excelled in a couple of areas that have to give Hawks fans some optimism about their fourth line center.
In the game, Kruger was active on the offensive side of the puck, putting four shots on net and missing another one in the game. He also had a hit and a takeaway to boot, but it was his success in an area that he struggled in last season that was the most awe-inspiring.
For the contest, Kruger took 14 draws, and he won 11 of them for a success rate of 78.6%. For a guy who lost well over half of his draws a season ago, it was a sight for sore eyes to see him moving his hands so quickly off the drop of the puck, and if he can bring that kind of acumen to the dot during the regular season, then his standing in the eyes of the coaching staff will surely rise.
Second Star: Patrick Sharp
Sharp has looked great all preseason long, and he continued that trend on Saturday night, picking up two assists to wrap up his preseason with a bang.
What has stood out the most about Sharp's efforts in exhibition play has been the speed and deft puck-handling that he has put on display during these games.
He showed that again on Saturday, when he grabbed a loose puck in the first period and showed some great patience and agility in skating around the offensive zone to draw the attention of two Capitals' defenders, and then found Leddy with a bullet pass that Leddy deposited into the net for the Hawks' first goal.
Obviously, Sharp is a veteran who always comes into camp ready to go, and even after a really short offseason, he already seems to be in top form as the Hawks prepare to open the campaign.
First Star: Nick Leddy
Leddy is a player who is looking to firmly establish himself as an effective offensive weapon off the blue line, and needless to say, if he can play like he did Saturday all season long, he is going to definitely cause his stock to go through the roof among hockey experts.
That's because Leddy was aggressively attacking the puck all over the ice, and the results speak for themselves. He picked up the Hawks' first goal on a wicked wrist shot in the first period, and he picked up another tally in the second period to push the Hawks back ahead shortly after Mikhail Grabovski had pulled the Caps back even with Chicago.
Leddy also had the primary assist on Jimmy Hayes' third period goal that gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead. All total, he had three shots on goal and also played over 20 minutes of ice time, second on the team only to Duncan Keith in the game.
Obviously, Leddy isn't going to rack up three points a night, but if he can push the tempo off the blue line and cause teams fits with his effective play in transition, Leddy is going to be a key cog in the Hawks' Stanley Cup repeat chances.