The Blackhawks were closer to finding a cure for insomnia than solving Pekka Rinne and the Preds on Sunday night, falling 2-0 at the United Center.
The Hawks controlled the action for much of the first period, but were on the wrong side of a 1-0 score when the opening 20 minutes came to a close. A long shot by Ryan Ellis was redirected past Corey Crawford by Mike Fisher with 82 seconds left in the opening frame.
In the second period, the script remained similar to the first. Chicago had more shots than the Preds, but a Gabriel Bourque goal extended the Nashville lead to 2-0. Through 40 minutes, the Hawks out-shot the Preds 20-11, but five failed power plays hurt.
It was physical early and often, as both teams came out hitting. Andrew Shaw hammered phenom Seth Jones in the first period and the Preds’ rookie did not return to the game. In the second, Jeremy Morin lowered the boom on Roman Josi and was subsequently jumped by Eric Nystrom. Nystrom received only two minor penalties for the action that followed the clean hit by Morin, and the Hawks weren’t able to capitalize on the four-minute advantage.
Pekka Rinne was good, but the Hawks’ sense of urgency was stunningly absent from the contest. When Corey Crawford went to the bench with 2:08 remaining in the third period, Chicago had been credited with only five shots on net in the previous 17:52 while chasing two goals.
Kris Versteeg was frustrating all night, but he was far from being alone in that regard. Sheldon Brookbank lost contact with Fisher before Nashville’s first goal, and Brent Seabrook whiffed trying to keep a puck in the offensive zone before the Preds’ second tally. Andrew Shaw took a holding penalty with 37 seconds remaining in the four-minute advantage in the second period, and Brandon Bollig was sent off for boarding in the third period.
Morin showed some jump and played with an edge, but was limited to only 10 shifts.
In the two games that Patrick Kane has been out, Jonathan Toews has skated 23:46 (against Carolina) and 23:54 (against Nashville). He won 11 of 20 faceoffs in the loss.
With Colorado at home watching, the Blackhawks remain only three points in front of the Avs for second place in the Central Division. The next game on the calendar for the Avs is against these Predators in Nashville on Tuesday night; Chicago hosts Dallas the same night.
Bryan Bickell is “questionable” for Tuesday night, according to coach Joel Quenneville after the game.