Blackhawks snap 8-game losing streak

SportsSoccerFootballMartin HavlatOrlando PredatorsPatrick LalimeNikolai Khabibulin

They had a football game in Nashville a few years back that ended with the "Music City Miracle."

The Blackhawks' 3-2 shootout victory over the Predators can't be classified as a miracle, but it might have felt that way to a Hawks team that snapped an eight-game losing streak Sunday night before a crowd of 12,848 at the Sommet Center.

Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane scored in the shootout to give the Hawks their first victory in January and goaltender Patrick Lalime made two shootout saves and 35 in regulation and overtime to help the Hawks improve to 20-21-4.

"We really fought hard there for that win," Sharp said. "They got a couple of power-play goals and I was happy to see our guys didn't go the other way. We fought and Patrick Lalime stood on his head and saved the game for us a number of times. If we had to win in a shootout, we had to win in a shootout."

Lalime, playing in place of starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, recorded his first victory since Nov. 9. He was aided in overtime by the defensive play of the game when Duncan Keith skated the length of the ice to catch and poke the puck away from Nashville's David Legwand, who was bearing down on Lalime on a breakaway.

"It's a good feeling," said Keith, who will represent the Hawks at the All-Star Game. "We've been kind of in a lot of games lately and they could have gone our way, but it was finally nice to have it go our way for sure."

The Hawks took a 1-0 lead at the 1-minute-17-second mark of the second period when Martin Havlat skated the length of the ice with the puck and found Sharp in front. Havlat sent the puck toward the Nashville goal and Sharp redirected it past goalie Dan Ellis for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

Marek Zidlicky's power-play goal at 15:11 of the third tied it at 1-1, but Robert Lang gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 8:43 remaining with a one-timer after Kane sent a backhanded pass to the veteran inside the left faceoff circle. Lang fired it past Ellis for his 16th goal.

Legwand tied it 2-2 with another power-play goal with 5:28 remaining to send the game to overtime.

"It's a big win for us," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "Our guys have been uptight a lot and hopefully we can carry on with this win. It wasn't our best game we've played in a while, but at least we battled. The bottom line is we got the win and that's all that matters. We had a strong effort and great goaltending."

Kane started the shootout for the Hawks and scored. After Martin Havlat followed with an unsuccessful attempt, Sharp had the opportunity to end the Hawks' longest losing streak of the season.

"I was just going to snap it as hard as I could with the fresh ice, and I saw that the goalie was really far out so I just put it around him and chipped it into the open net," Sharp said. "All along we stayed positive. We know we probably should have won a few games that we didn't. Hopefully we can get a winning streak going the other way."

Lalime allowed a shootout goal to Radek Bonk but then stopped Martin Erat and Alexander Radulov.

"You just want to get out of it," Lalime said of the losing streak. "It's nice to finally get one on the board. It was a great team effort."

One-timersLalime likely earned the start in goal when the Hawks play host to St. Louis on Wednesday night at the United Center. "Patrick has played two strong games [his] last two games," Savard said. "He'll get another start." ... Defenseman Andrei Zyuzin and winger David Koci were healthy scratches Sunday night.

ckuc@tribune.com

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