The Blackhawks dropped two spots in the playoffs on Monday after a 5-2 defeat to the Predators.
Adam Gaudette, acquired from Chicago in the Matthew Highmore trade with Vancouver, makes his first appearance in the lineup, while Calvin deHaan returns after missing the last two games with an injury.
Kevin Lankinen came back for his 33rd career victory. He returned to the net for his second appearance of the season, but was taken out of the net early in the third period after allowing five goals on 22 shots.
The Blackhawks were on their heels from the first face-off of Monday’s game. Given the Blackhawks’ position in the standings, they were expected to get off to a better start, but they came out flat.
The Blackhawks allowed one goal, 11 attempts, nine shots on goal and five scoring chances in the first 14 minutes of the game.
But like most times this season, the power play kept them in the game.
The Blackhawks managed to beat Nashville goalie Juus Saros on the first power play opportunity to tie the game at 1-nil.
Patrick Kane opts to shoot from the bottom right circle, but the puck rebounds forward. Parked on the goal line, Pius Suter played the puck to Alex DeBrincat for his 23rd goal of the season. Season goals scored.
The Blackhawks had a chance to tie the game after a very poor first period.
The second period has not been kind to the Blackhawks lately. Including tonight’s loss, the Blackhawks are 8-0 in their last three second period losses.
Kevin Lankinen had to make a big save seconds into the second period to keep the game tied.
The Blackhawks had more shots than the Predators in the period, but most of their chances came from outside.
Of the 24 shots in the second period, only 14 were on net, while the Blackhawks had just four opportunities to score. The Predators have made it difficult for the Blackhawks to get into the scoring zone this season, and tonight was no different.
While the Blackhawks struggled to create good scoring chances, the Predators had no trouble scoring two goals within 51 seconds of each other early in the third period.
Both goals were the result of defensive mistakes by the Blackhawks. In the first case Nikita Zadorov lost his front man, in the second Mattias Ekholm fought back. And yes, Ekholm is a defender.
David Kampf has done just about everything this season except score goals. His faceoff percentage of 51.82% is the best on the team, and he also played the 10th most penalty minutes of any NHL striker.
Prior to his second goal tonight, Kampf had not scored on 55 shots this season and had not scored in 49 consecutive games since last season.
Adam Gaudette assisted on the goal and for his first point as a Blackhawk.
The Blackhawks struggled to the end of a disastrous second period, but the worst is yet to come.
The one goal lead in the standings after two periods was not a bad start for the Blackhawks. They were behind for most of the game, but they stayed in the game as they entered one of the most important periods of the season.
Less than a minute into the final period, the Blackhawks quickly saw their one goal deficit turn into three goals.
The Predators scored with 23 seconds left in the third period when Connor Murphy was replaced after losing his helmet. Eighteen seconds later, the Predators scored their fifth goal of the game. Calvin de Haan misplayed the puck in his own zone and Duncan Keith lost the ball, leaving the Predators player alone in front of him.
The Blackhawks lost 5-2 and are now four points clear of the playoffs with 10 games to go.
Nashville is in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division with 51 points, while Dallas beat the Blackhawks by one point through a shootout victory over Detroit, leaving Chicago in sixth place with 47 points.
The Blackhawks return to the United Center on Wednesday for the second of three games against the Predators. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast nationally on NBCSN. The Blackhawks need to grab those two points to have a chance at the playoffs in the final weeks of the season.
For more post-game analysis and commentary, listen to the Four Feathers podcast.
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