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Crawford blanks Predators as Blackhawks win 4th straight

(MCT) — NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Twelve days and six road games later, the Blackhawks still do not have a loss in regulation.

The Blackhawks completed their season-long trip as the only team in the NHL without a regulation defeat after they stymied the Predators 3-0 behind goaltender Corey Crawford on Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Hawks completed their most difficult portion of travel in the abbreviated 2013 season with a 4-0-2 record after reeling off their fourth consecutive win. They stand at 10-0-2 on the season.

Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored and Crawford made 17 saves to record the Hawks’ first regular-season shutout since he did it March 23, 2011. Crawford also had one April 21, 2011 in the playoffs against the Canucks.

“It feels good to finally get one,” said Crawford, who recorded his sixth career shutout. “Our guys played a great game overall. That was just a solid, solid road win for us. It seems like we just didn’t make any mistakes out there.

“We’re not just working hard, we’re playing a really skilled game. When we get chances, we make the best of it.”

A seven-game homestand now awaits the Hawks as they set their sights on the NHL record to start a season with at least one point, set by the Ducks in 2006 when they raced to a 12-0-4 mark.

“We’ve done a good job of just staying in the moment and taking it game by game,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We’ve done some good things on this road trip. We want to carry that momentum back home.”

The Hawks controlled play during much of the opening period and held a 10-3 shot advantage at the first intermission.

Kruger put the Hawks on the board in the second period when Predators defenseman Roman Josi kicked the puck right to the stick of the center and Kruger rifled a low shot that sailed past Pekka Rinne to the stick side. The score at the 6-minute, 14-second mark was the first even-strength goal allowed by Rinne in 316:40, dating back to Jan. 28.

Just 1:06 later, Toews made it 2-0 when a rising shot by Keith hit the captain and popped up and over Rinne.

In the third, Kane scored on a shot reminiscent of the one he unleashed for the winning goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup championship in 2010. The winger sent a low rocket from a wide angle to the left of Rinne and it slid past the goalie as Kane extended his goal-scoring streak to five games.

“It was a great trip from start to finish,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our last couple of games were our best. (Sunday night) I was really pleased with the way we started and finished the game. Everybody contributed and it was nice to see Crawford get the shutout and end it on a very positive note.”

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