NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Chicago Blackhawks have had everything from great games to pretty good games this season. Saturday’s outing didn’t fall into either category.
Patrick Kane and Brandon Pirri each tallied and goal and the Blackhawks lost Marian Hossa before the game and Nikolai Khabibulin during it in a 7-2 loss to the Predators on Saturday night. The Blackhawks had a rather forgettable outing at Bridgestone Arena, showing little life and even less offense.
And then there were the injuries. Hossa was a pregame scratch with a lower-body injury, unable to go after taking part in warmups. Hossa’s currently listed as day to day and coach Joel Quenneville said he could play tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks. Khabibulin, however, is another story. The backup goaltender suffered a lower-body injury with 4:27 remaining in the first period. Quenneville said they’ll know more tomorrow how serious Khabibulin’s injury is, but said the goaltender could be out “a bit.”
“It’s tough seeing a guy like Khabby go down,” said Kris Versteeg, who added he was “really nervous” in his first game back with the Blackhawks. “He’s played the game for a long time. Especially when you see a guy get hurt like that, you really hope he’s OK.”
Quenneville said the staff will talk about what to do about the goaltending situation tonight.
All that aside, the Blackhawks were just bad in a lot of areas on Saturday. Their passing wasn’t crisp, they made mistakes and the Predators wasted no time capitalizing on them.
“We were very generous in gifting tonight with goals, to a different level. I haven’t seen that in a long time,” Quenneville said. “It was a free night for them offensively. We were very gracious.”
And the Predators, who were coming off a 17-day, seven-game road trip and a four-game losing streak, were only too happy to receive. The Predators looked like a team determined to break out of its recent doldrums, whether they were creating their own offense or taking what the Blackhawks gave them.
Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks were basically playing “pond hockey” out there.
“We got outworked. We didn’t do the right things we needed to do. We didn’t win our battles, especially in the right areas. We gave up some good scoring chances, so that’s what happens,” Toews said. “That’s a determined team. At this point, the guys in this locker room know what to expect from them and we just didn’t match the effort. So it’s pretty simple.”
Any time the Blackhawks did put a dent in the Predators’ lead, the euphoria didn’t last long. Case in point, Pirri scored on a Brent Seabrook shot to cut Nashville’s lead to 4-2 in the third period. Just 15 seconds later, former Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg scored to give the Predators back their three-goal lead.
“When we scored that one in the third and then they scored right away on the next shift, that pretty much said it all,” said Corey Crawford, who allowed five goals on 22 shots. “Rough game for us.”
The Blackhawks won’t have much time to stew about this one, with the San Jose Sharks waiting for them back in Chicago for tomorrow night’s game. They got a lesson on Saturday: play lousy against a team that’s hungry and desperate, and you’re going to lose. In this case, it was lose badly.
“We have to respond,” Toews said. “We have to learn we’re not too good to just to go out there and play pond hockey. We have to work for it every single night. We’re a tough team to beat when all four lines go up and we all work and play the right way. But we’re not going to get far if we’re not willing to do that.”