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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Four takeaways: Strong start wasted as Blackhawks winless streak extends to five games

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Strong start wasted as Blackhawks winless streak extends to five games

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday:

1. Strong start wasted

The Blackhawks came out of the gates flying. They recorded the first nine shot attempts (four on goal) and didn't allow the Rangers to get their first shot on net until the 6:35 mark.

The Blackhawks were rewarded when Brandon Saad scored at 5:41 to put his team up 1-0. But the Rangers responded with a pair of goals within 4:18 of each other towards the latter stages of the frame to go up 2-1.

It was a tough way for the Blackhawks to go into the first intermission, happy with the start but not the result.

2. High-quality scoring chances

The Blackhawks gave up three goals at 5-on-5 and one empty-netter. And they'll quickly realize when reviewing the tape that they didn't do Collin Delia any favors.

Each of New York's first three goals came from the lower slot area, and they were seemingly all preventable. That's the positive, but also the negative because the Blackhawks are making it tough on themselves.

The Rangers finished with 14 high-danger chances at even strength compared to the Blackhawks' three. Below is a heat map of the shot chart at 5-on-5, courtesy of naturalstattrick.com:

3. Power play stays hot

The Rangers aren't a great team in the penalty kill department. They went into Thursday's game ranked 26th with a 77.1 percent success rate. But they were coming in hot, having killed off 14 in a row in the last three games.

That wasn't enough to stop the Blackhawks' scorching power play, which potted two more on three opportunities (goals by Saad and Alex DeBrincat). It's the seventh straight game the Blackhawks have scored at least one power-play goal, upping their percentage to 37.2 (16-for-43) since Dec. 18 — a span of 14 games, which ranks first over that stretch.

The power play continues to be a bright spot, and the Blackhawks have to be pleased with the consistency of it over the last month now.

4. Strome vs. Strome

For the third time in his NHL career, Dylan Strome went head-to-head with older brother Ryan, the latter of whom had gotten the best of his younger brother in the first two meetings — once when Ryan was with the Islanders and the other when he was with the Oilers, both against Dylan's Coyotes.

But Ryan stayed 3-for-3 against Dylan even though they were both on different teams this time.

Dylan was on the ice against Ryan for 8:46 of 5-on-5 time, which is the most he faced against any other Rangers skater. Ryan's line generated nine scoring chances and allowed only one during that time.

Dylan did get the better of his older brother in the faceoff department (58.3 percent vs. 53.3 percent), but it was Ryan that came away with the result that matters to both of them and that's the two points in the standings.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

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