After a disappointing loss against the Predators on Monday, the Blackhawks desperately needed a win Wednesday to keep their playoff hopes alive. After trailing 4-1 early in the third period, the Blackhawks scored four consecutive goals to take the decisive two points.
Both the Blackhawks and Predators took 27 shots in the first period, but it was the Blackhawks who scored first.
Vinny Hinostroza, who now has seven points in eight games since returning to the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, snatched the puck away from Roman Josi, last year’s Norris Trophy winner, just outside the Predators’ blue line.
Hinostroza brought a competitiveness to the Blackhawks’ lineup that they lacked at times this season, and that play translated directly into the first scoring game.
Brandon Hagel took the puck after a turnover and fed rookie Pius Suter, who scored his 13th goal of the season. Season goals scored. The NHL rookie scored his third consecutive goal of the season.
Unfortunately, late in the first period, the Predators evened the score at 1-1. It was the result of another Blackhawks defensive error. The defender left the youngster alone in front of goal, giving Malcolm Subban no chance to save.
Malcolm Subban came into the game Monday and stopped all eight shots he saw. National coach Jeremy Colliton insisted that Subban had earned the right to start today, and there is no doubt that he made the right decision.
The Predators bombarded Subban with shots early in the second period, but he held on as long as he could. Sabban turned away all chances for a while, allowing his team to stay in the game and win.
In the second period alone, the Predators recorded 14 shots, 12 shots on goal and six dangerous chances, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The Predators beat Subban twice in the middle frame, but it easily could have been twice as many without his excellent play between the pipes.
After two periods, the Blackhawks were down 3-1 against the Predators, and their already slim playoff chances were gone. It’s gotten worse.
With 58 seconds to go in the third period, Luke Kunin gave the Predators a three-point lead while Connor Murphy’s difficult night continued. Murphy was involved in all four of the Predators’ goals. He has been the main defender this season, along with Duncan Keith, but this is a game he may want to forget.
With nine games left in the season, the Blackhawks are three to five points away from a playoff spot and are at a two-peat. You can pack your bags and prepare for next season, or score four goals in a row to keep your season alive.
Midway through the third period, the Blackhawks showed they still had life. Patrick Kane found rookie defender Wyatt Calinook sneaking through the back door and the 24-year-old scored his third goal of the season to bring the team within two points.
Just over a minute later, Vinny Hinostroza joined the party. He and Kirby Duch had a little pitching contest that ended with Hinostroza scoring with less than nine minutes left in the game. It was Hinostroza’s first goal of the season and his first goal for the Blackhawks since 2018.
For the first time this season, the Blackhawks scored more than two goals against the Predators. Not only did they score three goals, but Dominic Kubalik scored his 15th goal of the season. The goal of the season less than a minute after Hinostroza’s goal kept the score at four goals per game. The three goals fell in a span of 2:51 minutes, and the Blackhawks needed just one more goal to complete the comeback.
Three minutes into the extension, Brandon Hagel scored the winning goal, securing the second important point of the game for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are now 22-20-5 and three points behind the Predators, who are currently fourth in the final standings of the playoffs with 52 points.
The most important game for the Blackhawks at this point in the season is Friday at 7 p.m. CDT, when they play the Predators for the eighth and final time this season. The Hawks then have three days of rest before hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
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