The daunting part of the Blackhawks' schedule is over and who could have predicted this?
After playing 10 of their first 12 games on the road, the Hawks will return to the United Center on Tuesday still without a loss in regulation after beating Nashville 3-0 on Sunday night.
That closed a six-game road trip at 4-0-2 and left the Hawks a stunning 10-0-2 for the season.
“It was a great road trip from start to finish,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.
Corey Crawford made 17 saves for his sixth career shutout and first by Hawks goalie since March 23, 2011, a span of 102 games. The Hawks went all last season without a shutout.
Crawford saw only 3 shots in the first period and 4 in the second.
“It's a team effort,” Crawford told Comcast SportsNet after the game. “I can't remember the last time I had one of those, but it definitely felt good to finally get one.”
Quenneville was happy for Crawford, who had a busy third period with 10 saves. Crawford's last shutout came in the 2011 playoffs.
“It was nice to see Crow get the shutout,” Quenneville said. “I think we've had sometimes where we were thinking about, 'Hey, let's get that (shutout streak) over with,' and let it get away. But he made some key saves in the third to put that shutout away.”
After outshooting the Predatos 10-3 in the first period, the Hawks drew first blood at 6:14 of the second period on Marcus Kruger's second goal of the season.
Defenseman Roman Josi kicked the puck while trying to get it to a teammate but it went right to Kruger, who beat goalie Pekka Rinne with a snap shot to the stick side.
Jonathan Toews made it 2-0 just over a minute later at 7:20 when he redirected Duncan Keith's backhander past Rinne for his sixth goal of the season.
The Hawks essentially wrapped up the game 4:27 into the third period when Patrick Kane beat Rinne from a bad angle left for his ninth goal of the season. Kane has at least 1 goal in five straight games.
The Hawks now get to come home for the next seven games. They won't play another game on the road until Feb. 28 at St. Louis.
The trick now is to keep the momentum going on home ice.
“We don't want to change anything,” Quenneville said. “We don't want to feel like we're at home now, we can let the air out. We want to play the same way. Let's get excited with the building and the noise and our fans. I'm sure they want to see some hockey too, so it'll be fun to be there.”
The Hawks put the defensive clamps on the Predators for the first 40 minutes.
“Guys are getting back for our D-men, our forwards are coming back hard, and our D-men are doing a great job of getting sticks in the lane and taking options away,” Crawford said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.