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Blackhawks coach Quenneville gets milestone win

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- There were some tense moments before it became official, but Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville finally capped a memorable day by achieving a career milestone at United Center on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks' 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators pushed Quenneville's career record as an NHL coach to 782-451-110 with 77 ties, tying him with Al Arbour for second all-time in career wins. Earlier in the day, Quenneville signed a three-year contract extension that extends through the 2019-20 season.

The only NHL coach with more career victories is Scotty Bowman (1,244), now a Blackhawks special adviser. In his eighth season in Chicago, Quenneville got his 344th win as Blackhawks coach. He also had 307 wins with the St. Louis Blues (1996-2004) and 131 with the Colorado Avalanche (2005-08).

"[It's been] a great run," said Quenneville, 57, who has coached Chicago to Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015. "It's been a special place here in Chicago for [my family]. We've had a lot of success. It's been eight great years. It's been a great run. It's happened very quickly. Al Arbour has been a great coach in our game and player. Everybody always said good things, [and] everybody has a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. We always had a heck of a time trying to beat him, so it's a very special [honor] and [I] feel fortunate."

Win No. 782 wasn't easy, even though the Blackhawks took a 3-0 lead in the second period on a goal by defenseman Brent Seabrook. After goals by Andrew Shaw in the first and second that preceded Seabrook's, things looked good for Quenneville's bid to tie Arbour.

However, the Predators made things interesting. They got a goal from Mike Ribeiro 18 seconds after Seabrook scored that made it 3-1 and outshot Chicago 20-6 in the second. Nashville made it a one-goal game with 36.3 seconds left in the third on a power-play goal by Filip Forsberg, and the Predators had a chance to tie it when Ryan Johansen was left alone in prime scoring position and got off a hard wrist shot with four seconds left.

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made the save with his right arm to seal the win.

"He's a good coach," Crawford said of Quenneville. "He knows what guys need and knows how to get the best out of his players. It just shows with him getting so many wins, so quickly too. We're happy for him."

Quenneville was tested before the game with an unexpected lineup change. Center Artem Anisimov became ill after a team meeting and was scratched roughly 90 minutes before the opening faceoff. Quenneville promoted forward Teuvo Teravainen from right wing on the third line to Anisimov's role as center of the second line, which put him with rookie left wing Artemi Panarin and right wing Patrick Kane.

After briefly thinking about going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Quenneville decided to have recently acquired forward Richard Panik make his Blackhawks debut.

Panik, 24, was supposed to be a healthy scratch. He was acquired by the Blackhawks on Jan. 3 in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, needed nine days to get his U.S. work visa approved and didn't arrive in Chicago until Tuesday.

He took part in the morning skate but wasn't supposed to get in a game until the Blackhawks' upcoming back-to-back at Montreal and Toronto on Thursday and Friday. Panik was still at his hotel when the Blackhawks called to inform him of the new plan. He played eight shifts and saw just 5:16 of ice time, but Quenneville was impressed.

"[Anisimov] got sick after a meeting, after 6 p.m.," Quenneville said. "It came on quick. [We] made an audible at the line of scrimmage there. All of a sudden, Richard's at the hotel and he had to get here quickly. I thought he did a good job as the game progressed."

Quenneville didn't know whether Anisimov would make the road trip. Following the game, he and the Blackhawks were just relieved that Johansen's last shot didn't send the game to overtime.

Quenneville is one win away from passing Arbour; his first chance for win No. 783 comes Thursday at Bell Centre.

"It's something he should be very proud of," Shaw said. "We're glad to be a part of it."

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