Nashville Predators

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Predators: Playoff push starts now?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Predators: Playoff push starts now?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night:

1. Blackhawks fly out of the gates.

This is it. No more breaks, no more waiting for the right time to amp it up. The time is now. The Blackhawks are multiple games out of a playoff spot with the stretch run starting, and they played like a team with their backs against the wall out of the gates in their first game back since the All-Star break.

Right from the opening faceoff, there was purpose to their game and it showed after recording nine out of the game's first 11 shots on goal in the opening 15 minutes. The Predators made a late push by peppering six straight shots on goal to close out the period, but the Blackhawks held the fort down and took a 1-0 lead into the second period.

2. Fourth line makes offensive contributions.

David Kampf is the one who gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 3:03 into the game, but it took all three members of the fourth line to make it happen. Tomas Jurco kept the puck alive along the boards and Vinnie Hinostroza made a beautiful touch pass to Kampf, who ripped his second goal of the season past Juuse Saros.

It was Jurco's first point of the season while Hinostroza extended his point streak to three games. Hinostroza also scored the Blackhawks' second goal for his fifth multi-point game of his career and second this season. He has two goals and two assists over his three-game point streak.

Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz each assisted on Hinostroza's goal, and Kane had to take a big hit to make the play. With the assist, Kane has 50 points on the season and has hit that total in each of his 11 NHL seasons.

3. Anton Forsberg commits costly turnover.

This is an area where Corey Crawford is missed. Forsberg isn't the best at handling the puck, and he made a costly error that directly led to the Predators' only goal.

Mattias Ekholm dumped the puck in, Forsberg retrieved it behind his own net, then made a pass intended for Connor Murphy but was intercepted by Craig Smith, who passed it to Scott Hartnell then set up Kyle Turris to even up the score at 1-1 just 2:12 into the second period.

Fortunately for Forsberg, he came up large in the second period aside from that blunder and kept it a tie game before the Blackhawks eventually jumped out in front 2-1.

4. Predators catch a break.

The Blackhawks regained the lead at the 14:33 mark of the second period, and 39 seconds later they were awarded a power play after Kevin Fiala was whistled for cross-checking. Seven seconds after that, Ryan Ellis flipped the puck over the glass but officials huddled up and came to the conclusion that it was deflected out of play.

Replay angles clearly showed that was not the case, and they may have actually had a point as to whether or not the puck went over the bench or the glass but that wasn't discussed. So rather than getting a 5-on-3 power play for 1:53, the Blackhawks were stuck with just the 5-on-4 and they couldn't do anything with it.

It would've been a prime opportunity to take a two-goal lead into the second period against a Predators team that was 0-9-2 this season when trailing after 40 minutes going into this game. Needless to say, Joel Quenneville was not happy about it.

5. Shutting the door.

You can go back and pick a couple games in January where the Blackhawks probably deserved two points but never got them. The 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 10 and 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 22 immediately come to mind, where they did many things right but just couldn't find a way to get a win and that's what matters most at this point.

There are no moral victories anymore. Well, the Blackhawks found a way to pick up two points against the Predators despite getting outshot 22-9 in the third period. They bent but didn't break as Forsberg turned aside all 22 of those shots and finished with a season-high 42 saves.

It was one of those "we'll take it" games, and one where you'll build on the positives and take some confidence into Vancouver on Thursday.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return from break to face Predators


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return from break to face Predators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Can top line build off monster game vs. Detroit?

This was one of our three things to watch against Detroit, and we're making it one again. The trio of Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Toews had a monster game in a 5-1 win over the Red Wings going into the All-Star break, combining for four goals and four assists. 

It was a much-needed offensive explosion for a team struggling to find the back of the net as of late. Will they lead the way again and pick up where they left off?

2. Artem Anisimov's role.

After missing nearly a month with an upper-body injury, Anisimov returned to the lineup for the final three games before the All-Star break but has seen his role diminish. While he's still on the power play, Anisimov is slotted in as the third-line center with Nick Schmaltz thriving in the second-line center role and it makes for a deeper lineup.

But Anisimov's ice time has decreased in each of the last three games, going from 15:30 to 13:39 to 13:33, the latter two of which are second- and third-fewest of the season, respectively. It'll be interesting to see whether the Schmaltz-Anisimov-Patrick Kane line will be reunited down the road if things go sideways or if the middle is permanently set for balance purposes.

3. P.K. Subban.

With a goal in three straight games, Subban has tied his career-long goal streak set back in the 2010-11 season when he scored three in a row against Carolina, New Jersey and Chicago. He's never had a four-game goal streak, so look for him to try to keep that going tonight.

He has 12 goals in 47 games this season, already surpassing the 10 goals he scored last year in 66 games. His career high is 15 set in 2014-15, which he did in 82 games. At this rate Subban is certainly on pace to break that mark.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks 3-2 loss to Predators: Solid outing for Anton Forsberg


Five takeaways from Blackhawks 3-2 loss to Predators: Solid outing for Anton Forsberg

The Blackhawks have played well as of late but against the Nashville Predators, you better be close to perfect. They weren’t, so they left sans two points. Still, it wasn’t a bad outing.

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss on Tuesday night:

1. Second-period swing.

The first period wasn’t a bad one for the Blackhawks. But Duncan Keith took an unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of it, and while the Predators didn’t score on the power play that opened the second period they swung momentum their way. The Predators outplayed the Blackhawks and took a 2-1 lead.

2. Tough night for Panik.

Much like some of his teammates, Richard Panik has dealt with a scoring slump. While other teammates have broken out of their doldrums, Panik is still struggling. He looked to be fighting the puck that much more on Tuesday.

3. Solid outing for Anton Forsberg.

You can debate who should’ve started which back-to-back game. Coach Joel Quenneville opted for Corey Crawford against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday before starting Forsberg against the Predators.

Despite the Blackhawks loss, it’s hard to hang this on Forsberg. He had a good performance, stopping 28 of 31. Said Quenneville, “tough one at the end, hitting off us (Roman Josi’s goal going off Brent Seabrook’s stick), and it was a big goal. But he made some key saves all alone on broken plays, made some key saves to give us a chance to stay in the game.”

4. Pekka Rinne vs. Patrick Kane.

The Predators goaltender got the edge in this matchup. Kane had some outstanding chances against Rinne, especially early when Rinne stopped Kane on successive opportunities. Rinne would stop 37 of 39 in the victory.

5. Fourth line chances.

Lance Bouma brought the Blackhawks within one goal midway through the third period. Tommy Wingels, who had the team’s opening goal, had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds. The trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden has been solid and has brought a little offense, and was rewarded with late play. Said Bouma, “we were feeling it tonight. A couple of great chances. It was nice to get out there to try and get more.”