The Blackhawks are now two spots out of a playoff spot after suffering a 5-2 loss to the Predators on Monday.
Adam Gaudette, who was acquired by Chicago in the trade that sent Matthew Highmore to Vancouver, drew into the lineup for the first time while Calvin de Haan returned after missing the last two games due to injury.
Kevin Lankinen was back in net for his 33rd start of the season but was pulled early in the third period after allowing five goals on 22 shots.
Blackhawks Outplayed But Tied After First Period
The Blackhawks were on their heels right from the drop of the puck in Monday’s game. A better start was expected due to the Blackhawks’ position in the standings, but they came out flat.
In the first 14 minutes of the game, the Blackhawks allowed one goal, 11 shot attempts, nine shots on goal, and five scoring chances.
But like much of this season, the power play kept them in the game.
On their first power play opportunity, the Blackhawks were able to beat Nashville netminder Juuse Saros to tie the game at one goal apiece.
Patrick Kane elected to shoot from the bottom of the right circle, but the puck was deflected in front. Pius Suter, parked on the side of the net, fed the errant puck back door to Alex DeBrincat who buried his 23rd goal of the season.
The Blackhawks were lucky to be tied after a first period in which they were badly outplayed.
Second Period Woes Continue to Plague Hawks
The second period has not been friendly to the Blackhawks as of late. Including tonight’s loss, the Blackhawks have been outscored 8-0 in the second period of their last three losses.
Kevin Lankinen had to make a huge save seconds into the period to keep the game tied.
The Blackhawks went on to outshoot the Predators in the period, but the majority of their chances were from the outside.
Of their 24 shot attempts in the second, only 14 were on net while the Blackhawks were also held to just four high-danger scoring chances. The Predators have made it difficult for the Blackhawks to get into high-scoring areas this season, and tonight was more of the same.
While the Blackhawks were struggling to generate quality scoring chances, the Predators had no problem burying two goals in a span of 51 seconds early in the period.
Both goals were results of defensive breakdowns by the Blackhawks. The first saw Nikita Zadorov lose his man in front while the second came off a Mattias Ekholm breakaway. And yes, Ekholm is a defenseman.
David Kampf Lights the Lamp to Pull Within One
David Kampf has done nearly everything but score this season. His face-off percentage of 51.82% is the best on the team while he has also played the tenth-most minutes on the penalty kill by a forward in the NHL.
Prior to his second-period goal tonight, Kampf had yet to score on 55 shots this season and hadn’t lit the lamp for 49 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Adam Gaudette assisted on the goal as well for his first point as a Blackhawk.
The Blackhawks had a bit of life to end a disastrous second period, but the worst was yet to come.
Preds Score Twice in 18 Seconds to Start Third Period
Trailing the team ahead of them in the standings by one goal after two periods was not a terrible position for the Blackhawks to be in. They had been outplayed for the majority of the game, but they were still in it as they started one of the more important periods of the season.
Not even a minute into the final frame, the Blackhawks saw their one-goal deficit quickly turn to three.
The Predators scored 23 seconds into the third period when Connor Murphy went for a change after he lost his helmet. 18 seconds later, the Predators scored their fifth goal of the game. Calvin de Haan turned a puck over in his own zone and Duncan Keith lost an edge which led to a Predators’ player being left all alone in front.
The Blackhawks went on to lose by the same score of 5-2 and now find themselves four points out of the playoffs with ten games left.
Nashville sits in the fourth and final playoff spot of the Discover Central Division with 51 points and Dallas moved ahead of the Blackhawks by a point with a shootout win over Detroit, which leaves Chicago in sixth place with 47 points.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Blackhawks are back home at the United Center on Wednesday for the second of their three-game set against the Predators. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 PM CT and the game will be nationally televised on NBCSN. The Blackhawks will need to take the two points for a chance to stay in the playoff race in the final weeks of the season.
For further postgame analysis and commentary, tune in to the Four Feathers Podcast.