Blackhawks defensemen provide the offense in a win over the Predators

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Erik Gustafsson #56 of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the puck against Nick Bonino #13 of the Nashville Predators in the second period at the United Center on December 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Over the past 48 hours, many fans have had their mind on one player, and rightfully so.

After missing most of last season with a concussion, seeing Corey Crawford suffer another one Sunday night raised a high level of concern around the Blackhawks. Hence the goalie is on injured reserve as he recovers from his latest setback.

On top of that, the team will have to go the next few weeks without talented young defenseman Henri Jokiharju, who is on loan to the Finnish junior national team for the IIHF Junior World Championship.

Yet on the first night without either one of the players, the other defenseman picked up the team not only keeping the Predators out of the net, but also finding it as well.

Defenseman Gustav Forsling, who was activated of injured reserve Tuesday morning, along with Erik Gustafsson tallied the team’s two goals on the night and Cam Ward helped them take care of business on the other end. All helped to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 victory over Nashville at the United Center.

It snaps a two-game losing streak and gives the team their first win over their division rival this season, as Jeremy Colliton’s team improves to 11-19-6.  The win also ends a four-game losing streak for Ward, who made 30 saves to pick up his first win since November 24th.

He would allow only one goal on the night in the first period, as Kevin Fiala scored with 33 seconds to go before the first intermission to make it 1-0. That’s all the Predators would get as Ward and the defense tightened up, then the defenders went to work on the offensive end.

Forsling struck first with his second goal of the season with 4:44 to go in the second and then under two minutes later Gustafsson added his seventh score of the campaign to give the Blackhawks the lead.

Yet this time, there would be no comeback for an opponent at the United Center, as the Blackhawks’ defense held off the Predators for a win that was made possible by the blueliners in more ways than one.