Blackhawks

Blackhawks continue trending in right direction, but can't complete comeback vs. Predators

blackhawks_predators.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks continue trending in right direction, but can't complete comeback vs. Predators

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.

Some.

“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.”

'Big opportunity for us': Blackhawks know importance of what's at stake this weekend

'Big opportunity for us': Blackhawks know importance of what's at stake this weekend

Every game is crucial at this time of year. But there's no downplaying the importance of this weekend for the Blackhawks.

It starts Friday night at the United Center, where the Blackhawks will take on the Colorado Avalanche. And the winner will move into the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. No biggie.

"Absolutely," Jonathan Toews said on whether there's extra motivation. "I think we knew earlier in the season that games are important start to finish throughout the regular season because you're going to find yourself in a tight spot at some point. And here we are with 20 games or so left and we're going head-to-head with division teams that are basically in the same place trying to make the playoffs. So we know it's definitely a big one."

It's even more important for the Blackhawks because the Avalanche have a game in hand. So if the Blackhawks are on the losing end of a potential four-point swing, it changes the landscape in a fairly significant way and they're back to being a couple games back.

"Oh yeah, they’re big,' coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It’s fun. Been working for a couple of months here to be in games like this. Going to enjoy it, enjoy the battle, should be a fun atmosphere."

After Friday, the Blackhawks have to get right back to work and prepare for the Dallas Stars on Sunday because there's added meaning in that game, too.

The Stars currently own the first spot in the West, and the Blackhawks could pull within two points of them by Sunday — although the Stars have two games in hand, and host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. That's a pair of consecutive four-point games on the line, which could help propel the Blackhawks above the playoff line.

"Every game is big," Patrick Kane said. "When you get a chance to play a team that you're chasing and make sure they're not putting up anything as far as points-wise in the standings, that's a big opportunity for us. We know how big these games are this weekend but I think that's just going to be the way it is down the stretch. Pretty much every game is going to be huge for us. Be nice to have a big weekend here and see where we're at."

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.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Blackhawks are now tied for the final playoff spot in the West

jeremy_colliton_road_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Blackhawks are now tied for the final playoff spot in the West

Mark Carman and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Duke and the worst teams in the NBA breathe a big sigh of relief after Zion Williamson suffers just a Grade 1 knee sprain. After dodging this bullet, should Zion shut it down and prepare for the draft?

7:00- After seeing what happened to Zion, there have been more calls for the NCAA to pay players more than just tuition. Will it ever happen?

10:00- The Blackhawks are now tied for the final playoff spot in the West. Does Stan Bowman need to make a big trade before Monday's deadline?

12:30- Manny Machado is a San Diego Padres. Patrick Finley is huge Padres fan. He gives his reaction to the big free agent signing.

16:00- WGCI's Leon Rogers joins the guys on the panel to talk about Zion's injury, the Bears offseason plans. They also discuss the controversial finish in the Georgia-Mississippi State game when a stuffed animal decided the outcome.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe: