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updated: 1/31/2018 8:12 PM

Blackhawks hope goalie Forsberg's hot streak continues

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  • Anton Forsberg turns in another impressive performance during the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Brent Seabrook: "He was huge for us tonight."

    Anton Forsberg turns in another impressive performance during the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Brent Seabrook: "He was huge for us tonight."

  • Goalie Anton Forsberg turned in another impressive performance during the Blackhawks' 2-1 victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Brent Seabrook said: "He was huge for us tonight."

    Goalie Anton Forsberg turned in another impressive performance during the Blackhawks' 2-1 victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Brent Seabrook said: "He was huge for us tonight."
    Associated press

 

The first save -- even though the puck probably was traveling at close to 100 mph -- was the easy one.

It was the save that came two seconds later that impressed Brent Seabrook after the Blackhawks' 2-1 victory at Nashville on Tuesday.

With under 90 seconds remaining in the first period, P.K. Subban unleashed a blast at Hawks goalie Anton Forsberg from about 65 feet away. Forsberg stopped the puck, but it careened off his body and directly to the waiting stick of Ryan Johansen.

Pushing off his left skate, Forsberg lunged to his right, keeping Johansen's shot from finding its mark.

Those were just 2 of the 42 shots Forsberg turned away during a second straight impressive performance that allowed the Hawks (24-19-7) to keep pace with the half dozen teams fighting for two Western Conference wild-card spots.

"He was huge for us," Seabrook told reporters. "He kept us in it early and made some big saves the first couple periods. He gave us a chance to keep playing our game and establish what we wanted to establish. Then in the third period he was amazing."

No doubt about it.

In the final 20 minutes, the Hawks were nursing a 2-1 edge against a team that had lost only four times in regulation at Bridgestone Arena all season. What was most impressive about Forsberg's 22 third-period saves is that he rarely gave Nashville a second look.

"We certainly put him to a different task in the last 20," said coach Joel Quenneville. "They had some great looks and the opportunities on rebounds would have been in the net. He absorbed a lot of pucks that were from point-blank positioning and there were no rebounds.

"It was a great job by him."

It has been an up-and-down season for Forsberg, who was acquired along with Brandon Saad during the off-season. He has allowed 4 or more goals in four of his 15 starts, and is 5-7-3 with a pedestrian .915 save percentage and 2.86 goals-against average.

Recently, though, Forsberg has been spectacular, stopping 65 of 67 shots against Detroit and Nashville. He has also allowed 2 or fewer goals in five of his past six starts.

"I felt good last game (against the Red Wings) and I felt even better today," Forsberg said. "I've just got to keep continuing on like this."

If he does, it bodes well for a team that remains 4 points out of the second wild-card spot. No disrespect to Jeff Glass, who has been a fantastic feel-good story in the wake of Crawford's injury, but Forsberg is the technically stronger goalie. His rebound control is better. He reads plays better. And even when he yields a rebound, his reaction time is better.

Last week, Quenneville indicated he would ride the hot hand in net until Crawford returns. Right now, that hand belongs to Forsberg.

"I always want to play," Forsberg said. "It's as simple as that. But he's been playing well and I've got to play well to get the net. It's a competition and that's good."

Standings watch:

The Hawks' victory over Nashville was huge because Minnesota, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Anaheim and Los Angeles also won Tuesday. Colorado lost in overtime to fall 1 point behind the Wild for the second-wild card spot.

The Hawks, who play Thursday at Vancouver, are 4 points behind the Wild, Ducks and Kings and 3 behind the Avs.

"You look around the league, there's so many teams competing for playoff spots," Jonathan Toews told reporters before the Hawks' win over the Predators. "Everyone has that belief.

"When you're going up against that every single night, you're going to have to earn every little bit of offense, every little bit of success that you get.

"That's what we've got to do. We've just to go out there and work for it."

• Twitter @johndietzdh

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