Blackhawks

Hurting Blackhawks limp into All-Star break

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Hurting Blackhawks limp into All-Star break

Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 10:55 p.m.

The Blackhawks found out on Saturday what happens when youre not careful against the opportunistic Nashville Predators. They got a refresher course on Tuesday night.

Craig Smith and Mike Fisher scored off Blackhawks turnovers, and Pekka Rinne stopped 24 of 25 in the Predators 3-1 victory over the Blackhawks. It was the second consecutive loss for the Blackhawks, who were without Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp and had five rookies in their lineup. They dropped to sixth in the Western Conference and fourth in the Central Division.

It definitely was not the way the Blackhawks wanted to go into the lengthy All-Star break.

Its just the way it is against Nashville: you need to have a good start and unfortunately just a couple of breakdowns cost us goals, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Weve done some good things, but these last two games against Nashville we werent happy with the way things went. We got behind early and unfortunately you cant get behind these guys.

Dave Bolland scored a power-play goal with 12:40 remaining in regulation, but the Blackhawks could get nothing more off the Predators goaltender. Nashville forward Colin Wilson scored an empty-net, power-play goal with 13 seconds remaining.

Corey Crawford allowed two goals on 25 shots.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday morning that the Blackhawks had to take a business-like approach into this pre-break finale. But they were careless early with the puck, and it cost them twice.

We sagged off that first goal; we lost a lot of momentum, Quenneville said. The start was OK, but for most of the first and all second we didnt have anything going. No pace. They were stronger in the puck area; very noticeable.

Defensive lapses have been a sore spot for the Blackhawks a few times this season. And the Predators, with their stifling brand of hockey, can be dominant with a two-goal lead.

We thought coming in it would be a grinding, low-scoring game. We had those two unfortunate giveaways -- mine was the first -- and you cant do that to a team like this, Sean ODonnell said. It was a big one going into the break and we just made some mental mistakes in the first that cost us.

The Blackhawks will have some time to get away from hockey and regroup for the stretch run. There isnt much wiggle room in the Central or West, and the Blackhawks will have to shore things up defensively if they want to be back atop both of them.

Its a tough loss, Crawford said. You look at the other teams in our division, it seems like everyones rolling right now. Were kind of up and down. Well see where we are when we start rolling after a couple games.

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Capitals

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USA Today

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Capitals

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they take on the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. This will be his fourth start in six games.

Crawford is coming off a game in which he stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964, which earned him the No. 1 star of the game in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. He stopped 10 of 11 shots and six of seven inner slot shots, saving his team an extra 2.43 goals above average, according to The Point. It was a fantastic performance.

Crawford is 3-5-2 with a 3.61 goals-against average and .881 save percentage in 10 career starts against the Capitals.

The Blackhawks are on the second game of a seven-games-in-12-days stretch, so expect Crawford and Lehner to both get consistent reps over the next two weeks.

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Blackhawks No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach set to make NHL debut on Sunday vs. Capitals

Blackhawks No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach set to make NHL debut on Sunday vs. Capitals

It's official: Kirby Dach is slated to make his NHL debut on Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals. He found out the news when he got to the rink in the morning.

"It's pretty exciting," Dach said. "Grew up my whole life wanting to do this, so for me to get this opportunity now, it's awesome. Kind of speechless and at a loss for words. I've just got to go out there and play my game and focus on all the little things that the coaching staff wants me to do."

Coach Jeremy Colliton said who Dach draws in for and where he will slot into the lineup will be determined during warmups, but don't be surprised if he starts on the wing.

"I think he can play either one, which is a big benefit for us," Colliton said. "Probably long term he’s a center, but it’s only a benefit to be versatile."

Dach, who was taken No. 3 overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, missed the start of training camp with a concussion and appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint before getting recalled on Friday. His mom, dad and sister will be in attendance for his debut.

"It's a pretty surreal feeling," Dach said. "It's kind of a whirlwind. You're just kind of getting thrown in right away and you don't really have time to react. You just got to focus on the game and not really sit back and realize what's going on. You've got to be pretty mentally dialed in and ready to play.

"There's going to be a little bit of nerves with it, but I'm excited to get out there and have fun."

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