Two teams were undefeated in regulation Thursday night. The Nashville Predators continued that streak while the Chicago Blackhawks added a sad little one in the loss column for a 4-1-1 record.

A number of issues contribute to their inability to dominate against teams they should beat–but a particularly notable one is their inability to shine for a full 60 minutes of regulation hockey.

It’s the middle of the game that proves especially problematic. This season, the team has 63 shots in the second period but no goals to show for them.

It breaks down like this:

        • Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks led the Preds in shots, 9-7, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
        • Blackhawks-Flyers: In a shutout, Chicago still couldn’t find the net in the second period. Philly took more shots, 8-7.
        • Blackhawks-Predators: Chicago the Predators led in shots 11-4 during that 20 minutes, but no goals.
        • Blackhawks-Flames: Calgary scored in the second period despite Chicago outshooting them 16-6.
        • Blackhawks-Sabres: A close 11-9 shot advantage didn’t pay off for Chicago against Buffalo.
        • Blackhawks-Stars: Chicago had twice as many shots as Dallas–18-6–but the Stars scored two goals in the second.

Powerful performance for full 60 minutes of regulation (not to mention some electricity on the Power Play) could save Chicago some woes in the final minutes, like they experienced Thursday.

Predators Attack in Nashville

James Neal‘s natural hat trick gave the Predators a clear advantage over the Blackhawks in Chicago’s second road game.

 

The Blackhawks came out hot with Ben Smith scoring on a play he initiated with the help of Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad 12:21 into the period.

Neal answered, though, with 48 seconds left in the first, with a shot from the hashmarks (fed by Seth Jones and Mike Ribeiro) past Antti Raanta.

Chicago’s fruitless second period included Neal’s second goal–a hard slapshot from the opposite hashmark on a pass from Filip Forsberg.

He’d complete his hatty 1:52 into the third, redirecting a setup from Ryan Ellis and Forsberg. Andrew Shaw‘s gritty goal with 7:24 left in the game would be too little, too late, when none of the other boys in white could get the third period’s 17 shots past Pekka Rinne. If it’s any consolation for Chicago, though, Nashville is actively trying to force fans out with “Keep the Red Out” promotions for anyone eschewing the Red and White–and the crowd maintained large splashes of red.

Hawks soaring past the Flyers

The second period slump didn’t stop Raanta’s shutout against the Broad Street boys Tuesday night.


He made 32 saves to lead Chicago in a 4-0 victory.

Saad scored first for the Hawks, charging the net to make a play on a Bryan Bickell, Brad Richards setup with 7:06 left in the first.

Patrick Kane broke Chicago’s Power Play slump less than a minute later, rebounding a shot from Patrick Sharp, fed by Captain Jonathan Toews.

With 6:00 left in the first, Bickell went top shelf past Steve Mason after a pass from Saad.

Net-front presence paid off again for Kane on another Power Play, when he shot in a bobbling rebound set up by Sharp and Duncan Keith.

Chicago led in shots 43-32.

Corey Crawford was called day-to-day with an upper body injury Tuesday, but has not traveled with the team on this Nashville-St. Louis road trip.

The Blackhawks play the Blues at 7:00 p.m. CT tonight and the Ottawa Senators at 6 p.m. CT back in Chicago Sunday.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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