CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks had gone so long without scoring a power-play goal their coach couldn’t even remember when the last one occurred.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville can be forgiven for his inability to recall it. Their last power-play goal didn’t even happen in the month of April. He would have had to gone back to March 29 against the Anaheim Ducks to locate it.
But after a nine-game drought and 0-for-19 scoreless streak, the Blackhawks finally broke out of their slump by scoring a power-play goal on their first opportunity Friday and later added another power-play goal for the game-winner to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-4 at the United Center.
“It was good,” Quenneville said. “The power play did some good things. Obviously the finished product is what we’re looking for. Our 4-on-3 [overtime power play] looked good as well. It was a long time coming. We were talking about it when we scored after the first period, ‘When was the last time we scored on the PP?’ It seemed like a long, long time ago. It was nice to see to get that off our back.”
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was the one responsible for snapping the scoreless streak. Viktor Stalberg hit Keith with a pass between the two circles, and Keith fired a shot into the right corner of the net to beat Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne at 4:48 of the first period.
Keith credited his goal and the power play’s success to simply relaxing and playing hockey.
“I think sometimes just a little bit of change can help,” Keith said. “Obviously we did a little bit of work [Thursday,] but I think the key is using our skill and talent. Not thinking too much about it and just going out and knowing we have one extra guy out there and make plays.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews thought the same. His mindset was if the Blackhawks have no trouble scoring 5-on-5, why should they struggle 5-on-4.
“We wanted to put whatever five-man unit that was going to go out, let them just play hockey,” Toews said. “When you get thinking too much, you try to force plays. Nothing’s really going to work your way if you’re thinking too much on the power play.”
The Blackhawks relied on their instincts again in overtime. Patrick Kane took a pass from Keith into the left circle. Kane turned his body toward the net as if he might shoot and then made a hard pass to Marian Hossa into the right circle. Hossa was waiting for it and one-timed it into the net.
“We know we have to move the puck better and quicker,” Hossa said. “I think that changed obviously. Two goals tonight definitely helped the confidence for the power play.”