Blackhawks Dump Preds 5-3 In Potential Playoff Preview

Posted at 11:06 PM, Mar 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-05 00:10:19-05

So close to a statement performance, yet so far for the Predators.

For the second straight game a late mistake proved costly for Nashville as the Blackhawks turned a counter attack into a Brian Campbell goal that proved to be the game-winner with just 1:05 to play. Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal as Chicago won 5-3.

The loss comes on the heels of a similar outcome Thursday in Montreal when Paul Byron turned a takeaway into a breakaway game-winning goal for the Canadiens with just :08 left.

"The last two games were different scenarios," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We haven't done that all year and that's what makes it difficult."

The situations may be slightly different, but the outcomes were the same. The Predators walk away with zero points against what are now two of the four division leaders despite playing good hockey games.

The losses themselves cost the Preds at least two points in the standings, but also cost them momentum after winning four straight, and a chance to send a message against two of hockey's best teams.

In a potential playoff preview, the Predators went skate to skate with the hottest team in hockey for 58:55 before Campbell's game-winning goal. The outshot the Hawks 35-32 including a 10-0 flurry at the game's start.

But while the Preds failed to capitalize on that onslaught, the Blackhawks made their chances count. Chicago scored on both it's power play chances and even former Pred Jordin Tootoo slammed home a second period rebound for his first goal of the year.

Nashville responded from a 3-1 deficit on Calle Jarnkrok's wrister in the final seconds of the second period. And Viktor Arvidsson tied the game just over 4:00 into the third with a tough angle shot to the roof of the net over Corey Crawford's shoulder.

It was Arvidsson's second goal of the night and 23rd of his remarkable season. The young Swede now has 31 more points this season than he had all of last season, tied for the largest year to year increase in the NHL.

But even with the building buzzing and the Predators skating hard, it wasn't enough as Jonathan Toews gathered a loose puck and skated hard the other way, drawing the attention of three gold sweaters in the Preds' zone before finding Campbell alone in the slot for the decisive goal.

"We were attacking and had most of the chances at the end there," Laviolette said. "But they made a play and got a goal to win a hockey game."

It was a lost point and a lost opportunity for the Preds against a Blackhawks team that has won 12 of its last 13 games, including seven in a row on the road.

And now Nashville needs to regroup ahead of a difficult California road trip with games against the Ducks, Kings and Sharks next week.

The Predators are capable of skating with anyone. But as they've learned in the last two games, even one mistake can prove costly against the NHL's best.