Blackhawks can't stay on a roll, shutout by Nashville - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks can't stay on a roll, shutout by Nashville

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

If any Chicago Blackhawks opponent can own the moniker of nemesis it would be the Predators. For the third time in four tries this season Nashville defeated Chicago, this time 2-0.

Nashville was led to victory by goaltender Pekka Rinne and a strong, hard working defensive effort. The Predators started the night near the bottom of the Western Conference but for whatever reason they play near perfect games versus the Blackhawks. Maybe it is not only what Nashville seems to be able to do but more so what the Hawks can't do.

The Blackhawks had a chance to win three games in a row but as has been the case since mid-December, they failed. With a victory the Hawks could have gotten within four points of Western Conference leading St. Louis. If they could have found a way to win, Colorado would be five points behind the Hawks instead of only three.

Over much of this season the Hawks lack the consistency to distance themselves from the competition. On Sunday, a Nashville jinx, injuries, a top goaltending performance all could be cited as reasons for the loss. Or the realization the Blackhawks have been consistently inconsistent the last few months could be the conclusion.

Sunday night the passing and shooting accuracy was off. The power play certainly misses Patrick Kane, and the Hawks didn't score on four attempts with the man advantage. Kane leads the Blackhawks in power play goals and points.

This contest featured defensive miscues, a goal that was almost saved by Corey Crawford, a goal against that was tipped in, plus some questionable officiating. Beside Kane, Bryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival were also out due to injuries but top teams find a way to succeed with players out of the lineup.

The best way to summarize is the Predators make the Hawks uncomfortable. They are able to keep the game at their speed and are patient. Rinne is paid $7 million per season because he is a difference maker and it takes a concerted effort to get the puck past him.

The Hawks misfired on some choice scoring chances and didn't get the puck to the net often enough. Rinne made 29 saves but the Chicago shot total was less than their season average. In theory, against the best goaltenders more shots should be thrown at the net than usual. Chicago's 29 shots Sunday night were four fewer than their season average and they missed the net 12 times. Nashville had only two missed shots.

Give the Predators credit, with really nothing to play for they worked hard. Nashville was credited with a total of 17 blocked shots and 17 was the same number of shots they had on goal.

Brandon Saad was back in the lineup after missing three games due to injury. There hasn't been a timetable set for the return of Bickell or Rozsival. Forward Jeremy Morin gave a good account of himself with his second consecutive start.

The much anticipated debut for Teuvo Teravainen is likely to come against Dallas on Tuesday night. The 19-year-old will wear number 86 and many in Hawks nation are anxious to see how the skillful young center fits in.

With 10 games remaining, for the Blackhawks to have a shot at the top spot in the Western Conference they can't afford any missteps. The game versus the Stars is pretty much a must win as the next three contests will be on the road.

After playing Dallas the Hawks will skate on Thursday night in Boston, in Ottawa on Friday and then finish the road trip on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

I will be back on Wednesday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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