The Chicago Blackhawks got off to a sluggish start on Thursday night, and it ultimately proved to be their undoing as they were blown out by the Nashville Predators by a 4-1 margin.
Patrick Kane scored the lone goal of the night for the Blackhawks, extending his points streak to 24 consecutive games, but it wasn’t enough as the team’s brief two-game winning streak came to an abrupt end.
The Predators got off to a red hot start on the offensive end in the game, racking up nine shots in the first three and a half minutes of action. Ultimately their barrage against Scott Darling bore fruit, as James Neal maneuvered the puck between Niklas Hjalmarsson’s legs and fired a shot into the back of the net to put Nashville up by a 1-0 margin.
The Blackhawks were unable to gain control of the game’s momentum after a Viktor Arvidsson penalty, and Nashville was able to extend their lead. Craig Smith made a great play to drive into the offensive zone, and even though Darling was able to get a stick on the puck, he couldn’t stop it from sliding over the goal line as the score moved to 2-0 Predators.
Late in the period, the Predators got a power play on a Marcus Kruger infraction, and they scored again. This time it was Duncan Keith making a mistake, whiffing on an attempted pass block and allowing Fillip Forsberg to score on the man-advantage to put Nashville up 3-0 after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was much kinder to the Blackhawks, as they generated plenty of scoring chances, but Pekka Rinne was up to the task. Marian Hossa had a great shot early in the period that was stopped, and Andrew Shaw picked up a couple of chances in a row that were both denied. A breakaway and a give-and-go with Artem Anisimov bore no fruit, and the Blackhawks found themselves down three goals through two periods.
Early in the third period, the Blackhawks’ pressure continued to mount, and Kane was able to score to extend his point streak. Keith put a shot on net that Rinne gloved down, but the puck got out of his glove, and Marcus Kruger pried it free. Kane picked it up in the blue paint and flipped it into the net, and after video replay upheld the goal, the Blackhawks trimmed Nashville’s lead to 3-1.
Ultimately though, it wasn’t enough, and the Predators scored two late goals to take down the victory. Neal scored his second goal of the game after intercepting a Kane pass and beating Darling, and Eric Nystrom made a nifty play on a Blackhawks power play as he flipped a backhanded clearing attempt all the way down the ice and into the empty net to give the Predators a 5-1 victory.
The Blackhawks won’t have much time to recuperate from the game, as they welcome the Winnipeg Jets back to the United Center for the second time in six days on Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.