It’s not a final nail in the coffin type of situation, but the mountain that the Chicago Blackhawks will have to climb to reach the Nashville Predators and ultimately surpass them in the Central Division playoff race is getting steeper every day.
The Dallas Stars pounced all over the Blackhawks and their many mistakes tonight in a 5-1 loss for Chicago that puts them four points behind the Predators in the standings.
FINAL: Stars 5, #Blackhawks 1
Shot attempts: 68-52 CHI
Shots on goal: 39-34 CHI
5-on-5 scoring chances: 29-21 CHI
5-on-5 high danger chances: 13-10 CHI pic.twitter.com/lxjAwCjQ86
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) April 9, 2021
This game started out decently for the Blackhawks, seeing them get a fair amount of chances even though they allowed the first goal of the game. Dominik Kubalik netted his 14th goal of the season in the first period to tie the game in the first period and was the best moment of the game for Chicago (besides Tommy Hawk catching the pre-game puck from Patrick Kane).
Kubalík, who is on a 28-goal pace for an 82-game season this year, buried the puck after a stick feed from his new best friend Vinnie Hinostroza. In two games with the Blackhawks, Hinostroza already has two assists (this, after zero points in nine games for the Florida Panthers prior to the trade).
But the game turned on a dime early in the second period when the Blackhawks had a powerplay to begin the middle frame negated just seconds after the puck dropped. Dylan Strome was called for an interference on Andrew Cogliano and the game would go to 4-on-4 hockey.
The call was terrible, in my hockey opinion, because Strome unintentionally makes contact with Cogliano, who actually initiated the contact after over-skating the puck-carrier, Kirby Dach. Strome has nowhere to go to avoid the contact and the ice is just as much his as it is Cogliano’s on the play. But alas.
Almost immediately following the call, the Stars would take a 2-1 lead and never look back. They scored four unanswered goals and Chicago couldn’t fight back.
Predators are going to be 4 points ahead of the Hawks after tonight.
It'll be the first time since Jan. 21, four games into the season, that the Hawks have been more than 2 points out.
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 9, 2021
With the loss, Chicago moves to 18-18-5 on the season, staying in fifth-place in the Central Division with 41 points. They have lost 11 of their last 16 games, all in regulation. The Stars jump ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in the night, based on having a better points percentage.
Chicago hits the road for their next five games, starting on Saturday night as they travel to Columbus.
Find the full box score here.