The Chicago Blackhawks had been rolling lately. But logic dictates that, in an 82-game season, they were due for a bad one.
They got it on Saturday night. And they suffered the latter part of it without their captain.
Jonathan Toews left in the second period with an upper-body injury and Corey Crawford was pulled in the second period of the Blackhawks sluggish 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. It was the Blackhawks first regulation loss since Jan. 6 (against Colorado). And in the extremely tight Western Conference, the Blackhawks, with 64 points, are in fifth place.
The Blackhawks main concern is Toews, who coach Joel Quenneville said is day-to-day with that upper-body injury. Quenneville said theyll know more in the next day or two how Toews is. The Blackhawks captain was slashed on the left wrist by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson on Friday night. Toews played the rest of that game; but on Saturday he played his final shift with just over seven minutes remaining in the second period.
Marian Hossa scored two breakaway goals his 19th and 20th goals this season -- and extending his latest point streak to eight straight games. Its the second time this season hes had a scoring streak that long.
The Blackhawks were coming off a 3-1 victory over Florida at home on Friday night. Coupled with rough travel into Nashville they didnt get here until about 3 a.m. Saturday that probably didnt help matters against a relentless Predators team. But the Blackhawks werent using that as an excuse.
No, thats nothing, Quenneville said. In back-to-back settings weve been pretty good as a group. Weve been later than that.
Hossa said, probably you could tell (the lack of energy), but that shouldnt be an excuse at all. (The Predators) were hungrier. We have to learn from this one and we have them in a couple of days.
The one Blackhawk who didnt play on Friday was Crawford, but he wouldnt make it through the night. Crawford allowed four goals on 17 shots, from the bizarre a red-line shot from Kevin Klein that bounced oddly to the Sergei Kostitsyn breakaway that prompted his departure with 3:57 remaining in the second period.
Its just frustrating, said Crawford. I never like to get pulled. I dont know. I hate giving up a goal from the blue line.
Klein, regarding his goal, said the ice was getting a little rough out there. (David) Legwand gave me a pass and I decided to put a little English on it. I got a lucky bounce, which is always nice.
Quenneville didnt heap a ton of blame onto Crawford, but said that goal was a tough one to take.
You lose momentum off that type of goal, Quenneville said. We didnt have a lot of juice in the tank tonight as far as puck support. They beat us to a lot of loose pucks and certainly that was a turning point.
As games go, it certainly wasnt the Blackhawks best but it was their first rough one in nearly two weeks. They Blackhawks will get another shot at the Predators on Tuesday. Whether Toews will be a part of that game is uncertain.