Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks lose Duncan Keith to ejection, drop fifth straight to Flames

Four takeaways: Blackhawks lose Duncan Keith to ejection, drop fifth straight to Flames

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday:

1. Duncan Keith ejection

The Blackhawks were dealt a major blow in the first period when their two-time Norris Trophy winner was thrown out of the game 2:14 into it for boarding Dillon Dube, who exited and did not return.

It was an unfortunate result but certainly did not appear to be intentional or vicious as Keith immediately checked on the rookie forward as soon as it happened. Dube also made a quick turn, putting him in a vulnerable position and giving Keith no time to react.

The Flames scored once on the five-minute power play and the Blackhawks dodged a bullet by playing the next 1:47 shorthanded after forgetting to put a player in the penalty box following Keith's ejection.

2. Flames flurry in third

The Flames overcame a 4-1 deficit on Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche and won in regulation 6-5. They did it again on Saturday, this time overcoming a two-goal deficit and winning in regulation 5-3.

The Blackhawks surrendered four unanswered goals, three of which came in the third period — one of them an empty-netter. The Flames upped their third-period goal total to 28 on the season, which is far and away the most out of any team in the NHL.

It also didn't help that the Blackhawks were outshot 20-4 in the final frame, and were essentially trying to survive without Keith. Corey Crawford did all he could, finishing with 36 saves on 40 shots for a .900 save percentage.

3. Jonathan Toews hits 300

It would have been better in a win, but the Blackhawks captain reached a memorable milestone in his hockey career.

Toews scored a power-play goal 13:57 into the first period and became the sixth player in Blackhawks history and 16th active NHL player to hit the 300-goal mark. He has three goals in his past five games after going goalless in his previous six games.

Toews has scored at least 20 goals in each of his first 11 NHL seasons. He has eight through 15 games this season.

4. Brent Seabrook's gutsy effort

The minute Keith got ejected, you knew it was going to be a long night for the Blackhawks' five defensemen. It was for the 14-year veteran Seabrook.

He logged a season-high 26:48 of ice time, had an assist, a game-high four blocked shots, two shot attempts (one on goal), one takeaway and also made a third-period save on Elias Lindholm to keep it a one-goal game.

It's a good thing the Blackhawks have a four-day break, giving Seabrook a much-needed few days of rest. It also gives the entire team a chance to reset and regroup after going winless on their road trip.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks return favor, rout Predators

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks return favor, rout Predators

NASHVILLE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-2 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday:

1. Revenge

The last time the Blackhawks and Predators met, it resulted in one of the most lopsided scoresheets you'll ever see. The Predators dominated in shot attempts (87-41), shots on goal (51-20), scoring chances (42-14) and high-danger chances (16-3), according to Natural Stat Trick, en route to a 3-0 victory less than three weeks ago.

While the Predators led in most of the underlying categories on Saturday, the Blackhawks got their revenge on the scoreboard.

With the win, the Blackhawks improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games and moved above a .500 points percentage for the first time all season. They've scored 24 goals in their last five games after scoring only 33 in their first 14.

2. Blackhawks chase Pekka Rinne

Rinne was lights out for the Predators in his first eight starts of the season. He was 7-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and two shutouts.

Since calling the 20-save shutout against the Blackhawks on Oct. 29 "one of the for-sure easier" ones of his NHL career, Rinne is 1-3-1 and has given up 20 goals on 112 shots for a save percentage of .821 over his last five starts.

Against the Blackhawks, Rinne gave up four goals on 14 shots for a save percentage of .714 before being pulled for Juuse Saros in the second period. And the Blackhawks bench let him hear it as he skated off.

Robin Lehner was terrific yet again for the Blackhawks. He stopped 39 of 41 shots for a save percentage of .951.

3. Weathering the storm

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said the morning of their last game against Nashville that the Blackhawks would likely need to weather the storm in the first 10 minutes because the Predators always start strong in their own building. They didn't and were never able to tilt the ice.

The Blackhawks did on Saturday night, though.

After giving up the first six shots on goal, the Blackhawks outshot the Predators 9-6 the rest of the first period and scored the first two goals for the fourth time in five games. It's exactly what the Blackhawks were hoping to do, and it turned the momentum quickly after the Predators dictated the pace of play to start.

4. Contributions from defensemen

The Blackhawks haven't gotten much offensive contribution from the back end this season. They had only three goals from their defensemen in the first 17 games (Adam Boqvist, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook).

But with Calvin de Haan finding the back of the net in Vegas, Erik Gustafsson scoring a goal in back-to-back games after a 16-game scoring drought and Seabrook netting his second of the season, the Blackhawks have gotten four goals from their defensemen in the past two games. It helps take the pressure off the forwards when everybody is chipping in on offense.

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Blackhawks hungry for revenge against Predators after 'embarrassing' loss in previous meeting

Blackhawks hungry for revenge against Predators after 'embarrassing' loss in previous meeting

NASHVILLE  — After missing 11 games with a groin injury, Connor Murphy has been cleared to return Saturday night when the Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Blackhawks were 4-5-2 in Murphy’s absence and one of those games included a 3-0 loss to the Predators on Oct. 29, which was a one-sided contest from start to finish. Nick Bonino had a hat trick and the Blackhawks were outshot 51-20.

Since then, the Blackhawks have picked up 10 out of a possible 14 points and made a schematic change that has opened up the offense. They're playing with a lot more jump and the Blackhawks are hoping it translates to a more competitive game.

"It's a good challenge for us," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We were not very good that game. We didn't give ourselves a chance. We got a lot more confidence now and now we got to show where we're at. Doesn't mean we're going to win the game but we need to perform better."

Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne called the previous matchup "one of the for-sure easier shutouts" of his NHL career. He has given up 16 goals over his last four starts since blanking the Blackhawks after allowing only 14 goals in his first eight appearances.

The Blackhawks are fully aware of Rinne’s comments and they're looking for revenge this time around against a Predators team that has lost five of their last six games, including three in a row (0-2-1).

"We know what he said, so take it any way you want and be ready to play tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously the way we played last time in here wasn't acceptable and pretty embarrassing loss, so there's some truth to those comments. We've got to come back and respond."

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