Emery returns to form in 1-0 shutout win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- His spotless record might be in the past, but Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery returned to the form he displayed throughout his 12-0-0 start to the 2013 season in Chicago’s 1-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Emery made 20 saves, stood tall in the face of a frenetic final sequence and melted down the Predators’ best scoring chances with a handful of big stops on his way to his second shutout of the season.

“Rock solid, he did what he had to do,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought he was in control around the net. Against that team, there’s a lot of scrambles, a lot of loose stuff. They create traffic, and I thought he found pucks and froze them and looked very big.”

Emery faced only five shots in the first period, but a handful of defensive lapses opened up opportunities for Nashville in the second and third. In the opening minutes of the second period, he stopped David Legwand’s backhand from the slot after defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was stripped in his own end. Less than two minutes later, he stayed deep in his net to deny Nick Spaling’s open look from the top of the crease with a glove save.

Then in the final 90 seconds of the third period, he turned away all comers with the Nashville net empty and an extra attacker on the ice.

“That’s a tough team to play against,” Emery said. “We got the lead, I thought we did a great job of keeping that lead and playing well defensively, we got a few chances and made some big saves, and we were able to just keep that one-goal lead and win with it.”

Playing in his first game since a 2-1 loss to Anaheim on March 29, Emery’s goals-against average dropped to 1.95 with the shutout.

“He was a wall back there,” Bryan Bickell said. “He was our best penalty-killer, and in the late part of the game, he was there. They had some tight chances, but Ray Ray said no, and I think we were happy to get the shutout for him and go back home with the two points.”