For the Blackhawks on Tuesday, it was a mix. A good start, a so-so middle and not enough at the end. Against a red-hot Nashville Predators team and on the second half of a back-to-back, the Blackhawks could take some good out of their 3-2 loss.
“For the most part we played a pretty good road game. That being said the only thing that matters is the two points,” Tommy Wingels said. “While we’re happy with some aspects, we didn’t come away with the two points.”
Considering some of their squandered opportunities earlier this season, the Blackhawks are certainly looking for two points every chance they can get them. But Tuesday’s game wasn’t some lopsided mess. It wasn’t the dismal failure of last April. It was a close game in which Pekka Rinne stymied the Blackhawks just enough (especially Patrick Kane early).
Not that some issues couldn’t have been avoided. The Blackhawks went through their second-period swoon again and by the start of the third period they were down 3-1 to a Predators team that was 8-1-1 at Bridgestone Arena entering Tuesday’s game. The Blackhawks know from history, especially recent history, that the Predators will take advantage of any hiccup.
“Great start, second period we slowed down a bit and tried to come back being down two,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a couple of looks there at the end but they’re a good hockey team. You can’t have a lull in the game and you gotta keep the pace up.”
Anton Forsberg had a solid outing, stopping 28 of 31 in the loss. He was beaten cleanly early (Filip Forsberg’s game-opening goal). Austin Watson’s go-ahead 2-1 goal got another look when Quenneville challenged for goaltender interference, but officials ruled it was incidental contact.
“I didn’t understand how it went in, because it was going wide. I reached my arm over there. I asked the ref afterward and he said that my arm was outside and if it had been inside and he would’ve had contact with me, it would be no goal,” Forsberg said. “But my arm was outside. That’s what happened.”
Roman Josi’s game winner went off Brent Seabrook’s stick and past Forsberg.
The Blackhawks have been playing a lot better as of late. They’re producing again. They’re getting solid goaltending. They’re doing a lot of things right. But as they were reminded on Tuesday, having lulls against a surging team can still be costly.
“I think we got away from our game a little bit in the second period. They outshot us, out chanced us. For whatever reason we were on our heels but other than that it was a good effort,” Wingels said. “It’s a tough team, a tough building to play in. We wish we would’ve done better.”