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Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne battle for the puck in the second period Sunday. | Nam Y. Huh/AP

Blackhawks just aren’t as possessive as they used to be

SHARE Blackhawks just aren’t as possessive as they used to be
SHARE Blackhawks just aren’t as possessive as they used to be

The Blackhawks’ vaunted puck-possession game is not what it used to be. But they’re still finding a way to win. The question is whether they can sustain that success, especially in the postseason.

The Hawks entered the game Sunday against the Nashville Predators with a mediocre 50.3 Corsi percentage, a Joel Quenneville-era low and 14th in the NHL. The Hawks were in the top six in Corsi percentage from 2008-09 through the 2014-15 season, ranking fourth or better in six of those seven seasons.

They were 15th last year at 50.7, when they finished third in the Central Division and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the St.  Louis Blues. The Hawks have won 14 games when they’ve been outshot, including five games with a differential of 11 or more.

“I don’t know if it’s a recipe for success,” forward Patrick Kane said. “But our goaltending’s been great. We’ve probably relied on that a little bit too much this season.

“It’s up to us now to try to keep getting better and improve our puck-possession game, whether it’s hanging on to pucks or putting pucks in areas where we can get them back. Even if you’re about to change, instead of dumping, bring it back, regroup and get the other guys out there fresh.”

Despite the downward trend the last three seasons — from 53.6 to 50.7 to 50.3 — Kane is hopeful the still-evolving Hawks can regain their touch.

“That’s one of those things I still think we’re kind of learning in there,’’ he said, ‘‘so if it gets to that level where it was a couple of years ago, great. If not, I still think there’s room to improve and try to get better than where we’re at right now.”

Subban still out

The Predators were without 2012-13 Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, who missed his 11th consecutive game with an upper-body injury.

Heading into the game, the Predators were 4-3-3 without Subban.

Acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason for All-Star defenseman Shea Weber, Subban has seven goals and 10 assists and is a minus-11 in 29 games.

Toews pays price

Jonathan Toews held up his end of a bet with Kane on the USA-Canada final in the World Junior Championships. He wore a USA jersey after the Hawks’ win over the Predators. Kane tweeted the photo with the message, “Big win tonight. Big win by USA world juniors too. Now we all get to see @JonathanToews pay up.”

The U.S. victory itself was thrilling for Kane, a Buffalo, New York, native.

“It was awesome,” Kane said. “You come off the ice after a big win against the Buffalo Sabres — it was pretty cool having 25 guys in the room watching the shootout. It was fun to watch. Obviously cool to see the Americans win. It seems like the future’s bright for USA hockey — not only the World Juniors but the young American players in the league. It’s good to see.”

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