The Blackhawks and the Predators are tied 2-2 after the first period at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
The Hawks got their first two goals from unlikely sources. Center Marcus Kruger scored his first goal since Game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference finals when he put the Hawks on the board with a goal 2 minutes, 39 seconds into the first period. Kruger’s goal came at the end of a nice sequence with his linemates, Ryan Hartman and Marian Hossa. Hossa made a long pass to Hartman, who could not control it but kept the play alive. Kruger then cleaned up a loose puck in front of Pekka Rinne to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead at the time. Kruger had gone 41 games last season without scoring.
Then Niklas Hjalmarsson, back from his suspension, rattled home a shot from the left circle to put the Hawks ahead 2-1 before the Predators tied it later in the period.
The Hawks saw one of their young players go out early when Hartman hobbled off to the Hawks dressing room after blocking a shot from Subban. There was no immediate word on Hartman’s status.
Penalty kill kills
But the Hawks penalty kill continued to cost them Friday. They allowed three goals shorthanded Wednesday to the Blues and two in the first period Friday. P.K. Subban and Roman Josi each scored on power plays with shots from the point that beat Corey Crawford.
After the Blackhawks’ opening night loss, coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his lines Friday. Quenneville broke up the prolific line of Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane in the quest to create more balance along his lines. Panarin was with Toews and Richard Panik to start the game. Tyler Motte will be on the second line with Anisimov and Kane while Marian Hossa drops to the third line with Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger. Quenneville is also scratched defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk after van Riemsdyk played 82 games a season ago.