NASHVILLE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-0 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday:
1. Attempting to weather the storm early on
The Predators are one of the best home teams in the NHL. They came into the game tied for first with 11 points at home (5-1-1) and first with 31 goals on home ice.
Coach Jeremy Colliton said before the game that they might need to "weather the storm early on" and that's exactly what they did, up until 2:04 left in the first period when the Predators jumped in front 1-0. It could've been more.
The Predators led after one period in shot attempts (30-17), shots on goal (19-6), scoring chances (13-5) and high-danger chances (5-0), according to Natural Stat Trick.
"We talked about, certainly the first six, 10 minutes, they were going to come out hard, that's what they do here," Colliton said after the game. "Sometimes you're going to get outplayed and outshot, and I actually thought we weren't terrible in the first 10 minutes, but then we needed to push back, we needed to have some sustained zone time, we needed to make a few plays, we needed to win a race, win a 50-50, and then all of a sudden, that shapes the next 40 seconds of your shift. And typically, we were late, they got momentum from it, they hemmed us in, and it just snowballed."
2. Losing the 5-on-5 battle
The Predators entered Tuesday's matchup with the highest 5-on-5 goal differential in the NHL at +12, and it helps when you have the best shooting percentage at 11.7. After scoring five 5-on-5 goals in a four-goal win over Los Angeles on Sunday, the Blackhawks improved their differential to +1.
But the Predators won this battle handily. They led in every 5-on-5 category, including shot attempts (70-35), scoring chances (30-13), high-danger chances (13-3) and the scoresheet (3-0).
"I honestly don't know what the answer is in a game like that," Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously our energy is not there and the harder you scramble and you fight to try and get some sort of momentum in the game, pucks were just bouncing over our sticks, we were losing battles, we were second to races all the time and everything just kind of compounds and we're fighting to find our confidence as a team. Obviously your work ethic, your speed and your energy in the puck area has to be there first and foremost and you go from there."
3. Robin Lehner was sensational
This game had the potential to spiral completely out of control, but Lehner did his best to prevent that from happening. He matched his season-high save total of 38 by the second period and finished with 48 saves on 51 shots for a save percentage of .941.
Nick Bonino scored all three goals for the Predators, who won their fourth straight game and improved to 6-1-1 at home. The Blackhawks had no answers for him, aside from Lehner.
"He was vocal, he had energy, he would come to the bench and always had something positive to say despite the fact we were hanging him out to dry every single shift," Toews. "He made some huge stops. It could've been a 10-0 game if it wasn't for him."
4. Power play still searching for answers
The Blackhawks are still searching for some sort of momentum on the power play. They couldn't generate anything at even-strength, which put even more pressure on them to come through on the power play. They didn't.
By going 0-for-2 on the night, the Blackhawks are now 0-for-22 with the man advantage in their last six-plus games.