Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks claw back but come up short in overtime loss to Predators

Four takeaways: Blackhawks claw back but come up short in overtime loss to Predators

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators at the United Center on Wednesday:

1. Clawing back but falling short

Despite falling behind 3-1, the Blackhawks fought back like they often have this season and forced overtime.

Jonathan Toews scored a crucial shorthanded goal with 20 seconds left in the second period, giving the Blackhawks a lift going into the third period. Artem Anisimov potted the equalizer with 2:21 left in regulation thanks to a great feed by Patrick Kane, who finished with two assists for his fifth multi-point outing in seven games.

But the Predators finished the job in overtime when Filip Forsberg, fresh off a line change, took advantage of three tired Chicago defenders to score his second of the night exactly one minute into it.

The Blackhawks have picked up at least a point in 10 of their last 14 games, and haved played well against two of the best Western Conference teams (Calgary and Nashville) and hottest Eastern Conference team (Pittsburgh) in their past three contests.

"We expect even more out of ourselves," Toews said. "We’re playing well, we’re in games. When you get to overtime, we have that feeling that we can get the two points. It’s unfortunate we haven’t gotten it done in our building. We want to get that energy and get that crowd into it and give them something. Just falling short a few times here and there, but overall our team game’s been getting better. For us, we know the expectation’s even higher. We can go for those two points every night.”

2. Falling into old trap?

For the third straight game, the Blackhawks allowed the first goal after they had scored the first one in the previous seven games. It was a good run and a much-needed one too after the Blackhawks went through a tough stretch in November where they gave up the first goal in 11 straight.

But now they have to make sure not to fall into that same trap. Colton Sissons scored first, the Blackhawks eventually responded towards the end of the first period, but the Predators answered right back eight seconds later. The Blackhawks also gave up 17 shots in the opening frame, their third-highest of the season.

Erik Gustafsson, who was on the ice for the first goal and overtime winner for Nashville, was self-critical about his performance and the role he played in those two goals against.

"For myself, I felt I was terrible today," he said. "But the team played well. I think that we can be better in our zone. But for 60 minutes I think we played well."

3. Power play stays hot

The Blackhawks power play is on an absolute roll right now. They've been near the basement of the NHL for a large portion of the first half in that department, but have quickly found themselves flirting with the middle of the pack after their recent hot stretch.

With another power play goal — by Alex DeBrincat, who extended his goal streak to three games — against the Predators, the Blackhawks are now 10-for-29 (34.5 percent) in their last 10 games with the man advantage. They were 13-for-108 (12.0 percent) in their first 36 games of the season.

It's come a long way.

"Obviously [DeBrincat's] been finishing his chances on the power play, which is nice to see," Toews said. "When we’ve got a guy that can shoot like that, a guy that can pass like [Kane], we just have a lot of good things going for our power play right now.”

4. New top line

The Blackhawks made some changes going into Wednesday's game. DeBrincat was promoted to the top line with Dominik Kahun and Toews while Brandon Saad was moved to the third line with Drake Caggiula and David Kampf.

It was time for DeBrincat to get more ice time because he deserves it. He logged 17:01 of ice time, his second-highest since Dec. 16, scored a goal on the power play and recorded a team-high seven shots on goal in the loss.

"I thought we played well," DeBrincat said. "Can definitely be better. Made a few plays, probably could have scored a few more times. There's always room for improvement."

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Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula had a successful college hockey career. He compiled 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 career games across four seasons at North Dakota, and served as an alternate captain during his senior year.

But before committing to college, Caggiula was being recruited by the Erie Otters of the OHL and there could've been a moment where he played with Connor McDavid and current teammates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome all at the same time.

“I remember telling Sherry Bassin, the GM of Erie, how I was going to go to college," Caggiula said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He kept reiterating that, 'at 16 years old, we’re not going to be that great. But at 17, we’re going to be a little bit better, but not great. But at 18 and 19, those are going to be your big years and we’re going to have a really good team and we’re going to surround you with good players.’ I mean, that’s two years in the future so it’s hard to really see that.

"Looking back at it now, the players that I could have played with, they had some pretty talented players go through Erie. Even Dylan Larkin was an Erie draft pick and ended up going to Michigan. It could have been a pretty talented team there so it’s kind of funny to see how it all works out. We’re all here today coming from different paths so it’s pretty cool.”

Any chirps from the guys about his decision now?

“Yeah, Connor [McDavid] used to make fun of me all the time, you know? ‘Oh, we would have won the Memorial Cup if you would have joined the team!’ and all that sort of stuff," Caggiula joked. "We talk about it a little bit just here and there saying, ‘what a team we could have had and imagine who we would have been playing with and now we’re all here together. What if we all would have started in Erie together and now we’re here together?’ It just would have been a pretty cool story. It’s obviously something that we can’t control but it’s definitely something that you can look back at and laugh at.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Calvin de Haan on what it will be like to play for former teammate Jeremy Colliton

Calvin de Haan on what it will be like to play for former teammate Jeremy Colliton

When Jeremy Colliton was hired as the Blackhawks head coach in November of 2018, he immediately became the youngest NHL bench boss at age 33. In fact, he was even younger than some of the guys he was coaching (Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, to name a few).

It was a weird dynamic at first, but quickly normalized once the locker room realized how bright of a hockey mind Colliton had/has.

Calvin de Haan offers a unique perspective. After being acquired by the Blackhawks in the summer, an interesting storyline was brought to light. He and Colliton actually played together during the 2011-12 season with the New York Islanders organization, where Colliton served as the captain of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

While he may not have expected it to come this quickly, de Haan isn't surprised to see Colliton behind an NHL bench at such a young age.

"Looking back on it now, you realize that he has the qualities to be a successful coach," de Haan said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Smart guy, very methodical I don't envision him being a yeller or a screamer but he was a guy who always kind of spoke and everyone kind of listened. I'm assuming it's going to translate to his coaching style and just judging by his personality you can see why he's climbed the ranks pretty quick. I'm really excited to play for him."

Check out the interview in the video above.

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