Blackhawks

Blackhawks unravel in third period, fall to Predators in Game 5

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Blackhawks unravel in third period, fall to Predators in Game 5

NASHVILLE — The Blackhawks entered the third period tied 1-1 with the Nashville Predators, bending a few times but otherwise playing a solid road game.

But in the first three minutes of the third period, sloppiness crept back into the Blackhawks’ game. And against a Predators team that would do anything to extend its postseason, those three minutes proved very costly.

Filip Forsberg had a hat trick and James Neal had a goal and an assist as the Predators beat the Blackhawks, 5-2, at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, who still hold a 3-2 lead in the first-round series, will host the Predators in Game 6 at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Brad Richards scored his first goal of this postseason, as did Kris Versteeg. Scott Darling suffered his first loss of this postseason, allowing four goals on 28 shots. It was a trying third period for all of the Blackhawks, including Darling, but coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t putting the onus on his goaltender.

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“I’m not blaming the goalie,” he said. “An open-side play, another one was a nice play on power-play goal, the other [goal] open side. It’s not the goalie at all.”

Asked if Darling will start Game 6 on Saturday, Quenneville said, “we’ll talk about it but [Darling] did everything right. He’s fine.”

Darling said he was fine after the game.

“You lose games sometimes,” he said. “That’s not how you want to start a period, me or the team. We’re just getting ready for the next game. That’s all there is to it."

The Blackhawks’ defense, however, was not fine to start the third period. The Predators scored three times in the opening three-plus minutes, beginning with James Neal’s wraparound goal 47 seconds into the period. That gave the Predators a 2-1 lead. Colin Wilson, who has been stellar against the Blackhawks, scored his fifth goal of the series — a power-play goal — to put Nashville up 3-1 at 3:02 of the third. Just 12 seconds after that, Forsberg scored his second on an odd-man rush for a 4-1 advantage.

“You feel like you’re in a good position to start the third, being tied at one, and obviously we gave up a quick goal, scored on the power play and faceoff right after. It was pretty quick to get yourself down like that and obviously not the start to the third we wanted,” said Patrick Kane, who assisted on Versteeg’s goal. “I think every goal they had, especially 5-on-5, we pretty much gave to them, either breakdowns or plays that we can’t really let happen.”

[MORE: Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews named Selke finalist]

Forsberg added his hat trick-earning goal, an empty-netter, with 11 seconds remaining in regulation.

“It was five minutes they won,” Darling said of the Predators. “And that was the difference.”

The Blackhawks knew they were going to get a fight from the Predators. They didn’t help their cause with shaky defense. Nashville wasn’t going to go quietly, and they capitalized on every error. The ball is back in the Blackhawks’ court and, in two days, their arena. They’re still confident they can close this series out on Saturday but they can’t have the lapses they did on Thursday.

“It’s one of those situations where you definitely want to win Game 6 in our building,” Kane said. “We have a great situation. If you told us we’d be up 3-2 heading back to our building for Game 6 we’d take that at the beginning of the series. We’re still in a great situation. We’ll move on and be ready come Saturday.”

 

 

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Kris Versteeg recently retired and now the Blackhawks are honoring him with the team’s “One More Shift.”

Versteeg began the season with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, but retired in November after playing six games for the IceHogs this season.

The 33-year-old wrote an emotional letter to the Blackhawks organization after requesting his contract with Rockford be terminated.

Versteeg will be honored before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He will join the team on the ice for the national anthem and highlights of his career will be featured in the United Center.

Versteeg won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, in 2010 and 2015. He is part of the Blackhawks celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that 2010 Cup win. Brian Campbell was given the same treatment on Nov. 21.

The first 10,000 fans into the UC can get replicas of the 2010 ring.

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Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane visit recovering Chicagoland hockey player for the holidays

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USA Today

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane visit recovering Chicagoland hockey player for the holidays

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane recently surprised recovering hockey player Payton Bruns in the hospital, spreading some cheer across Chicagoland this holiday season. The players spent time with Bruns and his family talking hockey and his recovery.

“I had no clue that they were coming,” Bruns told the camera.

Bruns cited Kane as one of his favorite players, making this moment even sweeter.

You can watch the heartwarming video here.

Bruns, a senior at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, broke two of his vertebrae sliding into the boards while chasing down a loose puck this past September. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery and has since been recovering and doing physical therapy at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago.  

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