Outside of a brief takeover by Alex DeBrincat, the Hawks were constantly flummoxed by the Predators’ forecheck and defensive coverage in a 3-2 defeat.
Dylan Strome missed Sunday’s Blackhawks game due to the birth of his first child, Weslie.
Outside of a two-minute takeover by best friend Alex DeBrincat, he didn’t miss much.
In a near-replay of Saturday’s game, the Hawks were constantly flummoxed by the Predators’ active forecheck and unable to find openings in the offensive zone for most of the night. DeBrincat’s two third-period goals briefly gave them life, but the end result was the same: a 3-2 loss.
The Hawks remained winless in four meetings against Nashville this season, having scored just six goals in those games.
Coach Jeremy Colliton’s team has been strangely either dominant or inept against each divisional opponent this season, either full of ideas to break down the opponent’s system or completely shut down by it.
The Predators fall in the latter category. The Hawks are now 4-11-5 against the Predators, Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers this season yet 12-4-0 against the Blue Jackets, Stars and Red Wings.
“They come hard on the forecheck [with] a lot of pressure, and their D pinch [to] try to take your time and space away,” Colliton said Sunday morning between the two games of this series. “Ultimately, we can set ourselves up to have a little more time if we do a better job up ice, particularly with our forwards, with our skating and work ethic and pressure on the puck.”
Ultimately, the Hawks didn’t do much of that.
DeBrincat beat Preds goalie Pekka Rinne on a one-timer with 12:25 left, then blew past Preds defenseman Dante Fabbro and around Rinne to tie the game with 10:35 left. But a sequence of blown coverages in the defensive zone gave Roman Josi an easy look on the game-winning goal with 6:33 left.
Beaudin back with Hawks
Nicolas Beaudin drew back into the Hawks’ lineup for consecutive games Saturday and Sunday for the first time since Feb. 17 and 19.
The rookie defenseman, an NHL regular earlier this season, said he was able to continue his development seamlessly in the AHL, where he recorded nine points in six games while handling a massive 25-minute-per-game role.
“It was good for me to go there and play some games just to keep my momentum going,” Beaudin said. “For me, [the priority is to] play as many games as I can. If it’s in Chicago, it’s in Chicago. If it’s in Rockford, it’s in Rockford.”
Beaudin’s analytical mind helps him clearly identify where he needs to improve and focus on those areas.
“I’m working on my gap, trying to angle guys, not going backward,” he said. “[And] I’m trying to work on retrieving pucks, escaping left-right, making some plays down low for breakouts.”