Predators 5, Blackhawks 2
As Hawks radio color commentator Troy Murray put it: "It's just not happening tonight."
He said that during a lackluster 3rd period power play in which the Hawks couldn't capitalize on a chance to get back into the game, and eventually they would fall 5-2 to the Predators in what was simply a crappy effort tonight.
It was another sluggish start for the Hawks who, for some reason, don't seem to be prepared for the beginning of games, and it hurt them tonight.
The Predators scored twice inside the first 4 minutes of the 1st period, getting tallies from David Legwand and Alexander Radulov (a power play tally) to get a very quick 2-0 lead, and once again the Blackhawks were behind the eight ball early on in the game.
The Hawks got one of those goals back when Patrick Kane made a nice play to feed the puck to Robert Lang, who buried it to cut down the deficit to a 2-1 score about midway through the 1st.
Martin Erat scored with just about a minute and a half remaining in the 1st to give Nashville a fairly commanding 3-1 lead heading into the 1st intermission. The Hawks out-shot the Predators by a total of 12-6 in the 1st, but Nikolai Khabibulin gave up 3 goals on those 6 shots.
I wondered why Khabibulin was starting tonight after playing last night, but it was mentioned that Patrick Lalime's wife just gave birth, so perhaps he is a bit fatigued. Despite that, Khabibulin was pulled, and Lalime was in to start the 2nd.
The 2nd period was the only good 20 minutes the Hawks really played all night long. They out-shot Nashville 14-8 in the 2nd and picked up some pretty good scoring chances against goalie Chris Mason.
"No Panic" Yanic Perreault was able to pick up his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform in the 2nd, when he sent a wrister between the legs of Mason about nine minutes into the middle frame, cutting the Nashville lead down to 3-2.
Unfortunately, that was the last goal the 'Hawks would pick up in this one. They headed into the 3rd period still down 3-2, but they generated nothing offensively in the final period. Jordin Tootoo scored just four minutes into the 3rd on a brutal giveaway by James Wisniewski, and Jason Arnott's empty netter in the final minute sealed the deal.
So, to recap, the Blackhawks lost tonight because:
- As usual, terrible start to the game...maybe the Blackhawks didn't like the early 6:00 PM start? They didn't want to miss the end of the Patriots/Colts game? Clearly, I'm reaching here.
- Nikolai Khabibulin: 6 shots faced, 3 goals allowed. The 'Hawks may not have played strong defense tonight, but for a guy who makes $6 million a year, it wouldn't hurt for him to make a big save when we need it. I'm not saying he never makes the big stops; just that tonight, he didn't.
- James Wisniewski, that might have been your worst game as a Hawk. The giveaway that led to Tootoo's goal was just awful, and put the Blackhawks down by 2, giving the momentum to Nashville. He's had a good start to this year, so I'd say this was just an off night for him.
- Down 3-2 going into the 3rd, and the 'Hawks only mustered 6 shots on goal in the final period. Gotta be able to generate more than that when you're down. Nashville just sat back and played conservatively and Chicago had no answer for it.
- Not able to stay out of the box tonight, eight penalties committed and two power play goals for Nashville, some of that can be attributed to questionable officiating, however.
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: Everyone pretty much played like crap, but I guess I'll give to to Yanic Perreault, who scored his first goal as a Hawk.