The sky was falling in Chicago a couple hours before the puck dropped in Nashville.
Malcolm Subban was starting, the Hawks were replacing Alex DeBrincat with Matthew Highmore and Adam Boqvist with Lucas Carlsson, and Nashville isn’t as bad as Detroit.
When the game started, thoughts and prayers were already being submitted for the postgame comments sections…
When the game ended, Subban deserved so much more than he got from the skaters in front of him.
Chicago’s best weapon so far this season has been its power play. So Nashville willingly ignored the scouting report; Mark Borowiecki went to the box 2:12 into the first period.
And, for the seventh straight game to open the season, the Hawks scored with the advantage.
Dylan Strome handled the business end of a pretty pass to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Andrew Shaw provided the set-up for Strome’s second of the season.
After that the period belonged to Nashville. Well, except for Subban.
When the horn sounded after 20 minutes of hockey, Subban had stopped all 17 shots he faced in the first period. He appeared to get more confident as the period progressed despite facing shots more frequently. Thanks to his strong play, Chicago took a one-goal lead to the room.
Dominik Kubalik had a couple rough shifts but still skated 7:11 in the first period.
And even though Boqvist was missing, coach Jeremy Colliton continued to bury Ian Mitchell. Mitchell skated 4:20 in the first; Carlsson was on the ice for 5:41 in the period.
At some point the Hawks needed to stop letting the Preds test Subban, but it didn’t come early in the second. David Kampf went to the box 2:18 into the second period, taking a key penalty killer out of the mix and putting the Hawks short-handed. Chicago was able to kill the penalty but it wasn’t smooth sailing.
The Hawks held the lead for 29 more seconds once Kampf left the box before Yakov Trenin tied the game. Nikita Zadorov would love that shift back but it felt like it was only a matter of time until Nashville beat Subban.
Nashville kept putting pressure on the Hawks, who struggled to get the puck and attack. But seven minutes after the Trenin goal, the Hawks got a chance to take the lead back. Mattias Janmark made it count.
Unfortunately, Carl Soderberg went to the box less than three minutes after the Janmark goal.
Thankfully, Nashville didn’t want use of a full two minutes of power play time. Luke Kunin killed his own power play after 75 seconds when he hooked Calvin de Haan.
The brief advantage the Hawks had wasn’t a good one. Their passing was a mess and they struggled to get the puck into the zone until their power play was nearly half over. Nashville killed their penalty and the two sides skated on.
Without another penalty called or goal scored, the second period came to a close. Chicago was out-shot 8-7 in the period, making the game total 25-15 in favor of the home Predators. The Hawks’ defensemen were credited with nine blocked shots through 40 minutes, led by three from de Haan.
Mitchell was still not getting off the bench nearly enough. He had the fewest shifts (11) on the blue line and the least ice time (7:10) over the first two periods. Carlsson was on the ice for 9:29 of the first 40 minutes.
But, thanks to Subban doing good work, the Hawks took a one-goal lead to the third.
Mitchell didn’t help his case for more ice time when he took a tough penalty in the corner 8:30 into the third period. He was caught tripping Matt Duchene and went to the box for a couple minutes to think about it. Nashville put good pressure on during the power play but Subban was on point.
Unfortunately, the lead lasted only 36 seconds after the penalty expired – the same script as Nashville’s first goal. Mikael Granlund tied the game after a flurry of shot attempts from the skaters in the mustard sweaters.
How would the Hawks respond? With another stupid penalty, of course. Andrew Shaw cross-checked Nick Cousins 40 seconds after the Granlund goal to put the Hawks short-handed yet again.
This time the Blackhawks killed the penalty and didn’t give up a goal in the minute immediately following the PK. But the ice was tilted in favor of the Preds and it wasn’t close; the Hawks were getting out-shot 11-3 with three minutes left in the third period.
Chicago was able to run out the clock on regulation and guarantee at least one point in the standings for the fourth consecutive game.
Nashville finished regulation with a 37-19 shot advantage. So let’s be absolutely clear for a moment: Subban kept his team in this game and earned at least one point. His performance through 60 minutes of hockey was outstanding.
Patrick Kane was held without a shot on net in regulation, but he set up Janmark for a great opportunity early in overtime.
Sadly, Kane was caught flat-footed later in overtime. Roman Josi exploded into the zone and Granlund left the puck for him. Dylan Strome was telling Kane to fill where Josi was headed but he couldn’t get there; Josi stuffed it home to end the game.
Subban stopped 36 of 39 shots in the game. Again, he was terrific. But he takes the overtime loss in this one.
Connor Murphy played a long, strong night. In a team-high 28:03 on the ice, Murphy led the team with five blocked shots and was also credited with one hit and two takeaways.
Chicago’s defensemen were credited with 13 blocked shots in front of Subban.
Kane finished the night minus-two in 21:14 and without a shot on net. Last year he was held without a shot only twice in 70 games. Philipp Kurashev and Shaw were the only other forwards not credited with a shot on net.
The two teams face each other in Nashville again on Wednesday night.