NASHVILLE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Saturday's season finale:
1. Ending on the wrong note
The Blackhawks didn't have much to play for down the stretch. But they preached trying to finish strong regardless because they want to continue establishing and building an identity.
And they almost did.
But after taking a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Predators scored five unanswered goals in the final two frames to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Central Division and snapped the Blackhawks' five-game point streak. The Blackhawks finished the season with a 36-34-12 record and 84 points.
"We weren’t in the playoff race the last few games and we wanted to finish on a strong note and play a little bit of that spoiler role," Drake Caggiula said. "They were fighting for the top of the division, and we could’ve spoiled that for them. That was on our mind, for sure. We wanted to close out the season on a good note, but we kinda let the game get away from us. We stopped doing the things that made us successful.
"There’s a few parts of the game that we could’ve cleaned up, and as you can see, they had 50 shots. That’s too many shots and too many opportunities for a team like that. They’re a good team and they’re eventually gonna capitalize on their chances, and they did.”
2. Cam Ward's performance wasted
The Blackhawks would've loved to finish the season with a win and head into the summer feeling like they were trending in the right direction. In the bigger picture, they are, but Ward turned in one of his best games as a Blackhawk in what could be his final NHL season.
He stopped 45 of 49 shots and had a high-danger save percentage of 1.000. He finished with a .930 save percentage in his final three games and hasn't gotten enough credit for what he did this season.
"He was the best player on the ice, I thought, and gave us a chance to win," Duncan Keith said. "It's too bad we couldn't provide more support, more goals and better defensive play, whether that's the penalty kill or what. I think Cam, he was great for us all year. His leadership and stepping up in the locker room, and I think when we really started to turn the corner when Corey [Crawford] was out and Cam was the guy in net for a lot of those guys as I remember. It's frustrating in the sense he played such a good game and we couldn't give him more support."
3. Taking back the scoring title
After being dethroned by Alex DeBrincat last season, Patrick Kane is back to being the Blackhawks' goal scoring champion. He and DeBrincat were tied with 41 going into the final three games of the campaign.
But Kane scored once against St. Louis and twice against Dallas to pull ahead for 44 on the season. He came up two shy of his career high of 46 set during the 2015-16 season, but it's the fifth time he's led the team in scoring and third in four years.
Here's a look at the Blackhawks' single-season goal leaders since the Kane and Jonathan Toews era:
2007-08 — Patrick Sharp (36)
2008-09 — Toews (34)
2009-10 — Kane (30)
2010-11 — Sharp (34)
2011-12 — Sharp (33)
2012-13 — Kane and Toews (23)
2013-14 — Sharp (34)
2014-15 — Toews (28)
2015-16 — Kane (46)
2016-17 — Kane (34)
2017-18 — DeBrincat (28)
2018-19 — Kane (44)
4. Preparing for next season
Well, that's a wrap on the 2018-19 season. And what a ride it's been. Opening Night feels like yesterday, but at the same time so much has happened since then.
Will Jeremy Colliton take a break and unwind or will it be right back to business?
"It'll be a break from coming to the rink and speaking to the team every day, so that'll be different," Colliton said. "Would love to still be playing. We want to be in the playoffs and there's lots of hockey to watch. We can take time as a staff and as an organization to evaluate things, and I think that's important. We haven't really had that time. Make a plan, do everything we can to get where we want to be."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.