Corey Crawford stopped 38 of 39 Nashville Predators shots, as the Preds fell 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
“I just thought we did not have our ‘A’ game,” forward Mike Fisher said. “We were playing against a great team, and I thought we had too many turnovers in the neutral zone that cost us. They are good at turning pucks over and going and getting those odd-man rushes, and that’s what they did and that was the difference.”
The first 19-plus minutes of the opening frame were scoreless until Artem Anisimov beat Pekka Rinne in tight for his 16th of the season, giving Chicago a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.
The clubs then traded goals early in the second, with Richard Panik giving Chicago a 2-0 lead before Ryan Ellis beat Corey Crawford with a slapper from the blue line to bring Nashville to within one. Patrick Kane got it right back on a breakaway, however, and made it 3-1 Blackhawks at 4:08.
The score remained stagnant for the rest of the second and much of the third, as the Preds continued to throw shots at Crawford. Chicago added an empty-net tally at 19:23 to finish things off and hand the Preds their 18th regulation loss of the season.
“There are parts of the game tonight where I don’t think we were executing very well,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought the first 10 minutes was all us and the last 10 minutes was all them. We made too many mistakes in the last 10 minutes, but it’s difficult to play 60 minutes against a team like them. Part of the problem tonight was that we shot ourselves in the foot with mistakes that just can’t happen.”
“Consistency” has been a key word for the Preds during a tough stretch, and they believe there are positive signs among the negative, but they’re still looking for ways to be able to string those positives together on a regular basis.
“I think it’s there, you see it in spurts, just this consistency thing we keep talking about it,” Preds Captain Shea Weber said. “Whether it is 10 minutes or 20 minutes, it’s there for spurts of games and it’s not good enough. Especially in this League where a team that’s won 12 games in a row, you can’t make mistakes and expect it not to cost you.”
Shea Weber on the team working to get on a win streak:
“It’s a tough League. There are some really good teams, and it’s a tough game every night, so I can’t put a finger on exactly why we can’t get on a roll, but we’re working at it and we’ll try to dig ourselves out.”
Tuesday night marked the third and final home game of the month for the Preds. Nashville will now head to Western Canada for a four-game swing, beginning Thursday night in Winnipeg.
The Predators defensive corps collected two more points on Tuesday, upping their NHL-leading total to 111 on the season.
Forwards Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson did not play in the game and remain on Injured Reserve. Defenseman Petter Granberg and winger Austin Watson were scratched.
Infographic: Preds Can't Stop Hawks