Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw each scored goals, but brilliant performances from Pekka Rinne and James Neal were too much to overcome as the Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Nashville Predators, 3-2, on Thursday night. It's the Blackhawks' first regulation loss of the season, bringing their record to 4-1-1.
There were high hopes for the Blackhawks offense in this game after a dominating 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. The 'Hawks struggled to match those expectations in the first period, being outshot by the Predators, 14-6, and often looking sloppy on defense, including making a poorly timed change that led to a Nashville goal. In spite of that, the 'Hawks managed to get out of the first tied, 1-1.
The 'Hawks scored the first goal of the game, as Smith was able to jam home a backhand in the crease for his first of the season. Just about seven minutes later, Neal whipped home the first of his three goals in the game to tie the game with just 48 seconds remaining in the first.
In the second, a rare defensive lapse from Brandon Saad led to a loose puck that fell right to Neal, who ripped a slapshot past Antti Raanta for his second of the night, giving Nashville a 2-1 lead. The Blackhawks remained scoreless in the second period this season, and went into the third down a goal.
Just over a minute into the third, Neal snapped home his third goal to put the Preds up, 3-1. The 'Hawks were able to continue to battle, and Shaw was able to put one in to make the score 3-2. The scoring would stop there, and the Blackhawks took their first regulation loss of the season. Some late pressure after pulling Raanta gave the team some chances, but Rinne was just too good on this night.
The Blackhawks next play on Saturday on the road against the St. Louis Blues. Raanta will again be in goal for that one.