The Blackhawks are still looking for their first win of the season against the Predators, after dropping a 3-1 game at the United Center tonight. Chicago is now 0-1-2 against Nashville this season, and they also see their cushion in fourth-place of the Central Division shrink to just two points after the Predators regulation win.
But the result, while frustrating, isn’t the most important thing for Chicago tonight.
FINAL: Predators 3, #Blackhawks 1
Shot attempts: 55-55
Shots on goal: 34-30 NSH
5-on-5 scoring chances: 31-24 NSH
5-on-5 high danger chances: 11-11 pic.twitter.com/35N4SyDDl5
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 28, 2021
Prior to the game, second-year counterman Kirby Dach was activated off of LTIR and placed in the lineup for the Blackhawks. After suffering a broken wrist at the World Junior Championships back in December and having surgery to repair the break, Dach had missed the entire season up until tonight.
In his first game back, Dach was moved all over the lineup, starting the night on the third-line with Dylan Strome and Mattias Janmark, but at points also playing with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. Dach also saw time with the first powerplay unit, replacing Brandon Hagel in the slot position. Dach played 20:08 minutes of ice-time tonight, third-most among forwards behind DeBrincat and Kane. He had one shot on goal, one blocked shot and was 4-for-10 at the face-off dot.
Dach says during the intermission report that the decision for him to return was made two days ago. Said he is still feeling discomfort, but it's not enough that he can't push through.#Blackhawks
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) March 28, 2021
It wasn’t a fireworks display of a return for Dach, but knowing that this was his first REAL game since playing in the 2020 playoffs, it was an encouraging start. Dach will likely play the same role the rest of the season, playing the third-most minutes of any forward not named Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat and the youngster looks prepared to play the role.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 28, 2021
As for the game action, Chicago ran into a very good goalie in Juuse Saros and gave the Predators two gift goals because of turnovers up the middle of the ice. David Kämpf forced a stretch-pass up the middle of the ice in the second period that led to Nashville’s 2-0 goal. Later in the third period, Calvin de Haan tried to clear the puck right in front of his net that led to the 3-1 goal for the Predators.
Kevin Lankinen made 31 saves on 34 shots, but when you hang him out to dry with gimme chances for the Predators, there’s not much you can ask of him there. His record on the season falls to 12-8-4 with the loss.
The Blackhawks had another let down game when they had some energy and life, allegedly, coming into it. They’ll have a quick rebound opportunity with tomorrow night’s contest again at 7:00 p.m. at the United Center. We will likely see Malcolm Subban in net for the Blackhawks on the second night of back-to-back games. Chicago is 2-0-1 in the second game of back-to-back contests on consecutive nights and 11-3-2 in the second game of a two-game series against the same opponent this season.
• Chicago is now 4-10-3 when their opponent scores first and 3-8-1 when trailing after the first period. Starts to games have been crucial for the Blackhawks this season, anything less than getting on the board first has spelled difficulties for the club.
• Suter’s 11th goal of the season ties him with Kirill Kaprizov for the lead among rookies this season. It was also The Blackhawks’ 26th goal by a rookie this season, which leads the league.
• The Predators have one of the worst penalty-kills in the league, but were able to kill both powerplay chances for Chicago. Tonight’s effort by Nashville gives them 22 successful penalty kills in their last 23 chances against them. Yeah, they are still at the bottom of the league even after that kind of stretch of special teams play.