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Predators push Chicago’s skid to nine games

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 14: Ray Emery #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks takes a water break in the third period during his game against the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on February 14, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Predators defeated the Blackhawks 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett

Not every Central Division team celebrated the extension of a streak tonight.

While the Detroit Red Wings’ home winning run grew to 21 games, the Nashville Predators gave the Chicago Blackhawks their ninth loss in a row by edging them 3-2.

Rather than eye-balling the divisional standings, the Blackhawks’ focus is simply to make the playoffs now.

Their 29 wins act as a tie-breaker, but the Blackhawks are essentially tied with the Los Angeles Kings for sixth place with 65 points in 57 games played. That puts them in danger of being usurped by the eighth place Phoenix Coyotes as well as any number of bubble teams during the stretch run.

For most of the 2011-12 season, it seemed like Chicago was beyond the late-season nail-biting finish from last year, but that’s far from a guarantee now.

Ultimately, there really are only three obvious silver linings:

1. They’re still in the West’s top eight.
2. Detroit’s run buries their struggles in the headlines, at least nationally.
3. The St. Louis Blues lost to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

Hey, when you’re free-falling like the Blackhawks, sometimes you have to look a little harder for positives.