An awful first period – arguably the worst 20 minutes of the season – sunk the Blackhawks in Nashville on Thursday night.
Scott Darling was all alone in the first. He did his best against an 18-shot barrage, but three shots got past him as the Preds took control of the game against a Hawks squad that was totally flat. Somehow the Blackhawks were credited with seven shots on goal in the opening frame, but they generated nothing of substance.
How bad? The scorecard at War-On-Ice gave Nashville a 15-4 edge in scoring chances in the first period, and an 11-1 advantage in in high-quality scoring chances.
The Blackhawks were even willing to drop the gloves in an effort to generate some energy. Andrew Shaw danced with Barret Jackman after the first goal. It did nothing. Two goals later, Andrew Desjardins traded blows with Paul Gaustad.
Chicago showed up for the second and third periods, but the hole was too deep.
Patrick Kane successfully extended his point streak to 24 games early in the third, but that was the sum of the Chicago offense. Nashville added two more in the final 5:05 of the game to push the final score to 5-1 in favor of the home Predators.
Darling made 29 saves against 33 shots in the loss, while Pekka Rinne was dominant. He made 35 saves against 36 shots to earn the win.
Predictably, there really weren’t any highlights in the box score.
Artem Anisimov won only four of 15 faceoffs. Michal Rozsival led Chicago with four hits. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk blocked four shots each. And Kane led the way with five shots on net.
Quietly, Bryan Bickell had a decent evening. He was credited with three hits, three shots on net, one blocked shot and two takeaways in 12:07 on the ice.
Marko Dano and Brandon Mashinter were both healthy scratches again. Trevor Daley traveled with the team but sat out with a neck injury.
The Hawks are back at it on Friday night when the Winnipeg Jets are back at the United Center for the second time in six days.