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Blackhawks come up short against Predators
December was a dream month for the Blackhawks, but January hasn't been as kind.
A red-hot offense carried the Hawks to 10 victories in 12 December games, but their scoring has gone as frigid as a January windchill in back-to-back losses, including Saturday night's 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
The Hawks fell two goals behind and couldn't jump-start their offense before a crowd of 16,802 at the Sommet Center. They scored just one goal for a second consecutive game to conclude their three-game trip and saw their record drop to 10-8-3 on the road, 22-10-7 overall.
"We came out too slow again," said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had no shots on goal and was a minus-3 on the night. "I take responsibility for myself. I have to play better, make bigger plays in situations when you get the opportunities."
The Predators came out flying and had outshot the Hawks 13-3 by midway through the first period. They opened the scoring on a David Legwand goal after a loose puck found the center between the circles and he fired it past Hawks goaltender Cristobal Huet. It was Legwand's 16th goal and 40th point in his career against the Hawks, the most in Predators history against any NHL team.
Shea Weber scored a power-play goal in the waning minutes of the second to make it 2-0, and the Hawks were forced to play catch-up. They couldn't, and dropped to 1-6-2 when trailing after two periods.
"Starts are important, and we had two ordinary or below-average starts the last two games," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You can't win like that. They were the harder-working team, that was the part that bothered me. When you don't play hard, you don't play smart."
The Hawks got on the board early in the third when Adam Burish scored after teammate James Wisniewski took the puck hard to the net and toward Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne. The puck popped to Burish, and the winger put it in for his second goal of the season.
After that, the Predators put the game away on goals by Radek Bonk and then Legwand into an empty net.
"We're a little snake-bitten," Hawks center Colin Fraser said. "We're trying too many things. We have to get back to being simple.
"It's a long season. You have to win games, but you're not going to win every game. We have to get back to what we were doing when we were winning those games. Working hard and banging in some greasy ones, doing whatever it takes."
Rinne made 34 saves to earn the victory. Huet stopped 34 of the 37 shots sent his way but fell to 10-7-3 on the season.
"Teams know that they have to be ready when they play us," Quenneville said. "[Nashville] responded with the right energy and recipe to have success, and we were on the receiving end for the first part of the game."
The Hawks and Predators face each other in the second game of the home-and-home series Sunday night at the United Center.