Blackhawks dent Predators' playoff hopes
Steve Sullivan and the Nashville Predators know what a disheartening loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night means for their slim playoff hopes.
"I think our mind-set coming into this week was that we have to run the table," Sullivan said after a 4-2 loss. "And we didn't. We didn't think two-out-of-three wins was going to be enough. Now we have to hope that it is."
Patrick Kane and Martin Havlat each had a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks' fourth straight win.
The Predators close out the season on the road at Detroit on Thursday night and at Minnesota on Friday.
"Our guys are not going to quit until the end," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We have a daunting task at Detroit. Hopefully, we will take care of business there and go on to Minnesota and take care of business. We also need a little bit of luck."
The Predators jumped out to a 1-0 lead on power play goal by Vernon Fiddler, but the Blackhawks answered with three second-period goals, two of them in the first 50 seconds by Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien.
"We were in a stun mode for a bit there," Trotz said. "That might be the worst 38 seconds of the year.
"We come out of the locker room down 1-0 against a very good Chicago team and you are hoping to build momentum. Before we sat down and got a chance to get comfortable for the second period they had already scored two goals," Trotz said. "That put us on heels for the rest of the second period."
Fiddler opened the scoring on the power play. He shot the puck across the crease and it bounced off of Chicago's Matt Walker and past goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
But in the second period the Blackhawks struck three times.
Toews needed only 12 seconds to beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot on a two-on-one break. Byfuglien scored 38 seconds later on a rebound.
Kane got Chicago's third goal of the second period, capitalizing on a turnover by Nashville's Dan Hamhuis. Kane skated through the inside edge of the left circle and backhanded a shot that went between Rinne's stick and the left post.
"The second and third goals by Chicago were the result of blatant turnovers by us," Trotz said. "We can't have those against a team like that. They are too strong offensively.
"Those were two relatively routine plays we had to make. We didn't do that."
The Predators answered early in the third period. Sullivan was skating down the left side of the ice and found Arnott low in the slot. Arnott beat Khabibulin to his stick side.
'We battled back when Arnott scored there," said Trotz. "In the third period we were resilient. But we just couldn't get another by Khabibulin.
"Chicago played a real strong defensive game. They had a lot of jump."
Havlat clinched it when he hit the empty net with 55 seconds remaining in regulation.
"I still think we have the motivation of knowing that we haven't accomplished our goals et and I think that's pushing us," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a huge two points for us.
"It really helped us position ourselves where we can control our destiny in that area. We'll see how it plays out from there."
The Blackhawks came into the game averaging 3.15 goals per game. ... Ryan Jones returned to the lineup for the Predators after missing seven games with an upper body injury. ... Khabibulin has won seven of his last eight starts. ... Arnott has four points (three goals, one assist) in the two games since his return from a concussion.