After an overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, the Blackhawks return to Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday in search of their first road victory of the 2021 NHL season.
In the three games leading up to Tuesday night’s matchup, Nashville’s offense had struggled immensely, being outscored 14-4. After getting off to another slow start on Tuesday night against Chicago, The Predators flipped a switch and began to dominate possession late in the first period. This trend remained for most of the game, with Nashville owning a 38-20 advantage in shots on goal during its 3-2 win.
In a relatively low-scoring affair, Nashville’s Yakov Trenin netted his first goal of the season while Mikael Granlund provided a tying goal midway through the third period and a primary assist on Roman Josi’s game-winner in overtime. Josi, the Predators captain, led Nashville with six shots and 26:55 of ice time on Tuesday while causing Chicago problems in all three zones. The 2020 Norris Trophy winner is definitely a threat that Chicago will have to neutralize in order to come out of Wednesday’s game with two points.
Predators coach John Hynes will likely stay with the same lineup. After coming out of two starts with a glaring .839 save percentage, Nashville net minder Pekka Rinne saw a relatively light workload on Tuesday and could start again on Wednesday, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Juuse Saros in net instead.
Also, right winger Calle Jarnkrok — (not to be confused with Mattias Janmark, of course ... We still love you, Pat) remains on the injured reserve list.
Even without Alex DeBrincat or Adam Boqvist, the power play remained red-hot with Dylan Strome finding the back of the net. The aforementioned Janmark also scored his third goal in as many games. Those were the lone offensive highlights, though. Patrick Kane, who led all Chicago forwards in ice time (21:57) failed to register a shot attempt. Moving forward, the Blackhawks will have to find a way to generate some offense at even strength. In net, Malcolm Subban’s strong play was a bright spot. He allowed three goals on 39 shots and kept the Hawks competitive by stopping several quality scoring chances. With two games in two nights, though, it’s likely that Subban will be replaced by Kevin Lankinen or Collin Delia. On defense, coach Jeremy Colliton may mix up his pairings after some suspect turnovers from Nikita Zadorov. Colliton will likely stay with the pairings that started Tuesday’s game, but if things continue to go south, don’t be surprised to see him break out the blender. Expect both Lucas Carlsson and Matthew Highmore to remain in the lineup as replacements for DeBrincat and Boqvist, who remain on the COVID-19 Protocol list.
In this sprint of a season, seeing the same teams in back-to-back games is already starting to feel like Groundhog’s Day. If the Blackhawks want to avoid Tuesday’s result they’ll require adjustments in all three zones, especially at 5-on-5 play. Getting back to the clean zone entries and fluid offensive cycling that fueled their success against Detroit will improve puck possession and get the offense back on track.
Let’s Go Hawks.
Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)
Blackhawks — Statistic — Predators
48.45% (22nd) — Corsi For — 50.95% (10th)
46.93% (27th) — Expected goals for — 50.92% (14th)
2.97 (18th) — Goals per game — 3.07 (16th)
3.06 (16th) — Goals against per game — 3.10 (20th)
49.9% (17th) — Faceoffs — 52.3% (4th)
15.2% (28th) — Power play — 17.3% (25th)
82.1% (9th) — Penalty kill — 76.1% (29th)
Janmark — Suter — Kane
Kubalik — Strome — Kurashev
Highmore — Soderberg — Shaw
Hagel — Kampf — Carpenter
Keith — Carlsson
Zadorov — Murphy
de Haan — Mitchell
Forsberg — Johansen — Arvidsson
Granlund — Duchene — Kunin
Cousins — Haula — Sissons
Trenin — Richardson — Grimaldi
Josi — Ellis
Ekholm — Fabbro
Borowiecki — Sbisa
How to watch
When: 6:30 p.m. CT
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
TV: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV