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Blackhawks show life but skid reaches 9 games with 3-2 loss to Predators

Ray Emery

Ray Emery

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Updated: March 16, 2012 8:22AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blackhawks have reached a point where they are battling themselves more than they are their opponents. That’s what the Nashville Predators see, at least.

‘‘To me, it’s as much mental as anything,’’ Predators coach Barry Trotz said about the Hawks’ nine-game losing streak. ‘‘Pucks are finding ways into the back of the net. That just plays with your mind.’’

That’s the way it’s going to be
until the Hawks finally get a victory, especially after the Predators beat them 3-2 with the help of a fortunate bounce Tuesday at Bridge-
stone Arena.

Ryan Ellis scored the game-winner from the point when his shot deflected off defenseman Duncan Keith’s stick and went past goalie Ray Emery with 5:42 left in the third period. Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell had goals for the Hawks, who have lost to the Predators three times during their skid.

The Hawks undoubtedly will look at the positive things they did against the Predators — and there were many — but it’s little solace at this point. The Predators handed them their 11th road loss in a row.

‘‘It was disappointing in a lot of ways because we were doing what we wanted to do,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘I thought we had more urgency in our game. I thought we had more purpose in our game. That’s what it’s going to take to get out of it. Just stick with it and find a way.’’

The Hawks’ fight was much better, and so was the goaltending from Emery before Ellis’ goal. Emery stopped only 16 shots, but he made key saves on redirected shots by Sergei Kostitsyn and Craig Smith to prevent the Predators from taking a two-goal lead late in the second period.

‘‘That’s one I really want to stop,’’ Emery said of Ellis’ game-winner. ‘‘It just hits off the defenseman. You’ve got to stop the trend somewhere. I’ve really got to stop that.’’

Goalie Pekka Rinne was tough, and his performance was the differ-
ence for the Predators, who also got goals from Ryan Suter and Nick Spaling. Rinne made 30 saves,
including good stops on quality looks by Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews in the second period.

The goals Hossa and Bickell scored came on shots Rinne usually stops, too. Sharp nearly had a goal early in the third, but his redirection of Toews’ pass just missed.

‘‘He’s a really good goalie,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘Even when we had power plays, we had good traffic there and couldn’t get the puck in.’’

It was one of the Hawks’ better overall performances on their road trip, but there are still things they need to improve. Their penalty kill took care of all three of the Predators’ power plays, but their power play continued to be unproductive, also going 0-for-3.

The Hawks were able to overcome two one-goal deficits, but they still paid for their turnovers. It was only steps in the right direction, nothing more.

‘‘It’s going to sound like an old song, but I thought we really battled tonight,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘We did lots of good things. We spent a lot of time in their zone. In the end, one redirected puck ended up in our net. That hurts.’’

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