Two goals in 51 seconds in the second period.
Two goals in 18 seconds in the third period.
That’s what broke the Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff chances for the 2021 season tonight.
With a 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, their sixth loss this season to Nashville, the Blackhawks fall to four points behind them in the Central Division playoff race and a point behind the Dallas Stars, who leapfrog the Blackhawks after a shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings. Chicago now sits in sixth-place in the Division with 47 points and a 21-20-5 record. Grumble.
FINAL: Predators 5, #Blackhawks 2
Shot attempts: 57-46 CHI
Shots on goal: 32-30 CHI
5-on-5 scoring chances: 24-22 NSH
5-on-5 high danger chances: 9-6 NSH pic.twitter.com/vhyB3oYJWA
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) April 20, 2021
Juuse Saros was a brick wall in net, again, for the Predators, notching 30 saves on 32 shots. He is 4-0-0 against Chicago this season. Nashville scored twice in bunches after getting the game’s opening goal, moving the Blackhawks’ record this season to 6-15-3 when their opponent scores first.
I can’t help but feel like this is becoming an insurmountable mountain for this version of the Blackhawks to climb. They have two more games against the Predators coming up this week, both at the United Center, but they will have to win both of them just to get back to even-footing based on points with Nashville. Add in the fact that they are now chasing the Stars as well and it feels like the air left in the balloon for the 2021 season was let out less than a minute into the third period tonight.
Of note tonight, Adam Gaudette made his debut with the Blackhawks after Brandon Hagel was a late scratch, getting an assist on David Kämpf’s first goal of the season and Alex DeBrincat extended his point-streak to five games with a powerplay goal in the first period. Also, head coach Jeremy Colliton pulled the goalie for the first time this season, taking Kevin Lankinen out less than a minute into the third period in favor of Malcolm Subban. Just mentioning it.
We’ll see you Wednesday night at the United Center for game two of three in the series.
Because we have to.
Find the full box score here.