Hawks turn on the power play
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Associated Press The Blackhawks' Patrick Kane shoots the puck past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during the second period Friday at the United Center.
If the Blackhawks want to go far in the playoffs, they know the power play needs to be much better than it has been.
Breaking an 0-for-19 drought that stretched over nine games, the Hawks scored a pair of power-play goals Friday night in a 5-4 win over Nashville at the United Center.
Blackhawks faceoffBlackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes at the United Center, 7:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: Channel 9
Radio: WLUP 97.9-FM
The skinny: This is pretty much a must-win game for the Coyotes, who are 5 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with five games to play and three teams to pass. Phoenix will be without defenseman Zbynek Michalek (bruised ankle) and forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body). Goalie Mike Smith (upper body) is doubtful. Corey Crawford is expected to start in goal for the Hawks while Patrick Sharp (shoulder) misses a fourth straight game.
Season series: Hawks lead 2-0.
Next: Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, 9 p.m. Monday.
-- Tim Sassone
Marian Hossa's power-play goal at 52 seconds of overtime gave the Hawks their seventh straight victory.
"We know that in the near future here it's going to matter a lot," Jonathan Toews said. "So we need two confident units to go out there and make plays and even if we don't score to get some kind of momentum off it. Tonight I'd say we turned it around pretty good."
It didn't matter to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville that Duncan Keith scored one power-play goal off what could be considered a broken play and that Hossa's goal came 4-on-3.
"Obviously the finished product is what we're looking for," Quenneville said.
"We know we have to move the puck better and quicker," Hossa said. "Two goals tonight definitely helped the confidence for the power play. Especially the one-timers, we can surprise the goalies. Sometimes when things aren't going well we try to force things when the play is not there."
The Hawks went on the power play in overtime after Rich Clune high-sticked Marcus Kruger, a penalty Predators coach Barry Troutz called unnecessary.
"It should be stick on puck," Trotz said. "That's a stick on puck situation not 'I'm going to pick his pocket.' To me, that shouldn't happen."
Michal Handzus' first goal since rejoining the Hawks at 10:07 of the third period looked like it might be the winner, but Nashville's Bobby Butler tied it with 3:34 to play in regulation.
"Tonight maybe our pace and speed wasn't quite there, but we still made some smart plays and found a way to come away with the 2 points," Toews said.
Keith opened the scoring at 4:48 of the first period with the Hawks' first power-play goal in 10 games. It had been 0-for-19 and 1-for-32 in the last 12 games.
Keith scored off a feed from Viktor Stalberg on more or less a broken play. It wasn't exactly what the Hawks had been working on in practice this week.
"I think sometimes a little bit of change can help," Keith said. "The key is just using our skill and our talent and not thinking too much about it. We're happy our power play got us a couple goals there and we were able to win the game on it."
Quenneville said more is needed from the power play, which came into the game ranked 21st in the league.
"That's the one sore spot in the second part of our season here," Quenneville said. "Especially in the playoffs, we're going to have to rely on it."
It was 3-3 going to the third period with Hawks goals by Keith, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane.
Kane's goal came at 9:20 of the second period and gave the Hawks a short-lived 3-2 lead. It was Kane's 21st goal of the season, tying him with Toews for the team lead, and his first in five games.
"Over the course of the whole season he's been at an amazing rate," Quenneville said. "The last couple games the production hasn't been at the same rate, but I don't think we want to measure his game just by his point production."
• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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