Tonight was the first time Chicago played on back-to-back nights this season, and it showed. Heading into overtime for the second-straight game, the Blackhawks fell to the Nashville Predators 2-1 after getting shutout in the shootout.
FINAL: Predators 2, #Blackhawks 1 (SO)
Shot attempts: 72-58 NSH
Shots on goal: 42-30 NSH
5-on-5 scoring chances: 26-20 NSH
5-on-5 high danger chances: 11-8 NSH pic.twitter.com/Kp52r0buT2
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 28, 2021
Head coach Jeremy Colliton decided to go with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen in this one, putting Nicolas Beaudin into the lineup and taking Matthew Highmore out, all of which was … puzzling and unconventional. On the second night of back-to-back games, you really don’t want to be double-shifting anyone.
Meanwhile, Kevin Lankinen, making his fourth start of the season, earned points tonight for his fourth-straight game (41 saves on 42 shots), continuing to prove that he’s the best option in net for the Blackhawks right now (in fact, he’s basically been the main reason the’ve had a chance to win in each of his starts).
In a game that ramped up as it went on, it took until the third period for either team to find a breakthrough. A tough turnover from Calvin de Haan led to Nick Cousins getting free and getting the first goal of the game. Not long after, the Blackhawks fourth line of David Kämpf, Brandon Hagel, and Ryan Carpenter put in an excellent effort to get the tying goal. Hagel getting his first NHL point with the primary assist on the tying goal for Carpenter.
The #Blackhawks with a QUICK ANSWER. 🚨
— NBC Sports Hockey (@NBCSportsHockey) January 28, 2021
Not being able to convert in overtime or the shootout was a huge let-down, but the positive here is that the Blackhawks have gained at least one point in the standings in each of their last five games (2-0-3).
The downside is that this season, they have only two regulation wins over a bad Detroit Red Wings team and have lost every other game. Pity points only get you so far. Those games are still losses. They need to start turning those one-point games into two-point outings if they are going to try to contend (and that’s, of course, a very big “IF”).
Sadly, Chicago’s powerplay streak ends at seven-games. After scoring 9 of their 22 goals this season on the power play, the Blackhawks were 0-for-4 on the man-advantage on Wednesday night, ending the second-longest streak of scoring a powerplay goal to start a season.
On the flip-side of the special teams, the Blackhawks were able to go 8-for-8 on the penalty-kill in these past two games against the Predators. Killing four penalties in each game, the Blackhawks see their penalty-kill percentage rise to 78.8% for the season.
• Brandon Hagel continues to earn his minutes in the lineup. Hagel played 15:50 minutes, including 1:38 minutes on the penalty-kill, the more I watch him at the NHL level, the more he looks like he belongs. His high-energy style of play is something the Blackhawks need in their bottom-six forwards group.
• Chicago was terrible at the faceoff dot. They were bettered by the Predators on both nights, losing 33-of-61 faceoffs on Tuesday and losing 25-of-41 faceoffs on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks rank in the bottom-third of the league this season. They really miss Jonathan Toews in that respect.
• Patrick Kane bounced back from his no shots on goal effort from Tuesday night. He finished with four shots on net and played nearly the entire overtime period. He still needs help offensively and being with Alex DeBrincat is going to take some getting over for the Blackhawks for the time being.