Blackhawks

Predators score late third-period goal to down Blackhawks

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Predators score late third-period goal to down Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews was asked if he thought he had a goal against Pekka Rinne.

“Which one?” asked the Blackhawks captain, who had several prime opportunities against Rinne. “I had a couple great chances… it just didn’t go in, especially early on.”

No, past Brent Seabrook’s 12th goal of the season, the Blackhawks couldn’t get anything past Rinne, who looked like his vintage self in the Nashville Predators’ 3-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, who have lost two in a row, remain in second place in the Central Division with 81 points. The Dallas Stars, who lost to Winnipeg 6-3, remain atop the Division with 82 points. St. Louis, which lost to the New York Rangers, is third with 79 points.

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The biggest news of the night, however, didn’t happen on the ice. The Blackhawks acquired Andrew Ladd from the Jets just prior to the game. In return, the Jets got forward Marko Dano, the Blackhawks’ first-round pick of the 2016 NHL draft and a conditional pick in the 2018 draft.

The Blackhawks will enjoy the potential lines with Ladd’s addition but on Thursday night, they couldn’t muster enough offense with their current lineup. Yep, they had chances, but Rinne stopped all but one. On the other side the Predators got that game-winner late. Calle Jarnkrok got it with 1:51 remaining in regulation to keep the Predators undefeated in their last 10 road games (8-0-2).

Miikka Salomaki added an empty-net goal with 1:03 left in the game.

Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 31 in the loss.

[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Andrew Ladd from Winnipeg in blockbuster deal]

“We had some good chances Rinne made some spectacular saves on, but we just have to find a way to put the puck in the net. A couple of breakdowns there and the puck’s in the back of ours,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “Obviously we have to eliminate those, especially this time of year. Crow kept us in it, kept it tied a long time. They seemed to find a way there. We played a little better, we had our chances and we skated pretty well. But obviously in the end, the result is what mattered.”

The Blackhawks’ lineup will soon change a bit. They’ll bring back a veteran player with a lot of familiarity. On Thursday, however, their current lineup came up just short.

“It seemed like it was a pretty defensive-minded game where there weren’t a whole lot of scoring chances. Unfortunately they were able to get one late in the game there,” Duncan Keith said. “Frustrating way to lose.”

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: