Just when the Chicago Blackhawks appeared to be slipping, they
bounced back with a lopsided road victory against a division
After being shut out yet again, the Nashville Predators can’t
afford many more empty offensive performances with their playoff
hopes in jeopardy.
The Blackhawks will try to avoid a fourth loss in their last
five home games Monday against Nashville, which is looking to end a
five-game road skid as these teams play the first of three meetings
in eight days.
Chicago (26-5-3) dropped three of four overall before a 7-1 win
at Detroit on Sunday. The Blackhawks pounced on the Red Wings
immediately, getting three goals on their first three shots.
Nine players registered points for the Blackhawks.
“I liked the pace of our game,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
“That’s something the last three or four games I thought we were
off. … We got continuity in the lines and consistency from start
to finish. And the contribution offensively from everybody.
“But it certainly helps when you get a quick strike like that
right off the bat.”
The Predators (14-14-7) sit in a three-way tie for 10th with the
Stars and Oilers in the West, two points back of the Blue Jackets
for the conference’s final playoff spot. They’ll hope for another
strong April – they’re 8-2-1 in the season’s final month over the
past three years – as they seek a fourth straight playoff
After three straight home wins, Nashville’s defense fell apart
when it allowed six first-period goals in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to
Phoenix. The Predators’ offense was the issue Saturday, when they
were blanked for a league high-tying sixth time in a 1-0 overtime
loss at Colorado.
Nashville’s 25.5 shots per game rank last in the league, though
Saturday’s lack of production wasn’t due to a shortage of
opportunities. The Predators outshot the Avalanche 34-24, including
a 27-12 edge over the first two periods.
They were also scoreless on six power-play opportunities and are
0 for 12 over the last three games. Nashville is 4-11-4 when it
fails to score a goal with the man advantage.
“We had chances, and they were good chances,” said defenseman
Shea Weber, who with 20 points is one behind Martin Erat for the
team lead. “We’ve got to score goals if we want to win.”
The Blackhawks were again without Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa
on Sunday as both continue to recover from upper-body injuries.
Hossa has missed five straight games while Sharp has been sidelined
for 10 in a row, but Quenneville hasn’t ruled either out against
the Predators after both participated in their first full practice
The continued emergence of rookie left winger Brandon Saad has
helped alleviate those absences. Sixteen of Saad’s 19 points have
come over his last 15 games, including two goals and an assist
against the Red Wings.
“We like the way he plays,” Quenneville said. “I know that in
the first part of the season, before his play started to be
reflected in his production, I thought his play was rock solid. He
looks like he belongs here.”
Center Mike Fisher is questionable for Nashville after missing
Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury. Fisher tallied a point
in eight straight games before being forced to sit out.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored as Chicago won the
first meeting 3-0 in Nashville on Feb. 10.