NASHVILLE — For five straight games, the Blackhawks have failed to score the first goal. In fact, they haven't led at any point in any of those — a span of 302:32 minutes.
Not only does that put you in position where you're playing catch-up, but it prevents you from dictating the pace of play from the start. And that's something the Blackhawks know must change.
"It's always easier to play when you're ahead," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "No one wants to chase the game. Having said that, just because we go down 1-0, it doesn't mean it should be two or three. Let's keep playing. If we play the way we need to play over 60 minutes, let's add it up at the end. Bad stuff's going to happen. We're going to take penalties. We're going to take bad bounces. We're going to make mistakes. Just because we make one mistake, it doesn't mean we should make four.
"I think on the goals against, a lot of times it's the culmination of two or three or four things all happening at once, and it ends up in the back of our net. Again, when you defend together, just because someone makes a mistake it doesn't mean you're going to give up a huge chance. That's where we need to get to."
It will be a difficult task to break that slump on Saturday against the Nashville Predators, who lead the NHL with 13 wins when they score the first goal. The Blackhawks are near the bottom with a 7-1-4 record, but they haven't been giving themselves a chance to correct that.
Despite scoring five goals in Winnipeg, it's important for the Blackhawks to try taking control early, which would help instill some confidence and get a better feel for how they can play when they're ahead. It also could lead to a better end result.
"That would be good. I think it would be a good feeling," Duncan Keith said of scoring first. "But you know, play hard. We know it’s Saturday night here in Nashville, and they always come out hard in this building. Gonna have to be ready. I know we work hard, but sometimes we need to be smart. Sometimes mistakes happen, but whatever happens, happens. We’ve just got to find a way, that’s what it’s about. No matter who scores first or what the score is throughout the game, it’s just finding a way to win in a tough building on the road.
"We’ve got to be patient. Scoring first is nice in the sense that we haven’t been able to — we scored five last game — but we’ve generally had a tougher time scoring. It’s nice to get the first one and have a lead rather than chase it, knowing we haven’t had as much success in the past scoring."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.