The Blackhawks were facing a team that was missing eight players because of COVID-19 and playing the second half of a back-to-back.
But they couldn’t take advantage Friday.
Tanner Jeannot scored 58 seconds into overtime to give the Predators a 3-2 victory. The Hawks were 0-for-5 on the power play and mustered 19 shots on goal.
“We were just off,” Hawks interim coach Derek King said. “We were bobbling pucks; we turned a few pucks over. It was just one of those games where it wasn’t clicking for us.”
Even at full strength, Nashville tries to trap in the neutral zone and frustrate its opponents. The Hawks struggled to get through against the Predators, who were playing a handful of call-ups from the AHL.
“They played a hard game,” Kirby Dach said. “They play a boring game; they trap you up. There’s not a lot of ice to make plays. We just didn’t stick with it long enough.”
At least two centers who’ve had trying starts to the season showed some positives.
The Hawks got a point thanks to Jonathan Toews, whose third goal in four games tied it at 2 in the third period. Dach’s first-period score was his second in 22 games.
Good to be around
King said Jujhar Khaira (concussion) skated Friday and is feeling “a lot better,” though the Hawks have to be careful. Still, King and the Hawks relish his presence.
“He’s a great guy,” King said. “The personality, it’s just nice having him around the room, and the guys are swarming to him. Just seeing him on the ice, it was nice to see him getting up and running again.”
Reese Johnson (fractured right clavicle) also is around the team, and King quipped that he’s “getting his free breakfast every morning.” Like Khaira and Tyler Johnson, King said it’s great having him around.
“The guys with the bad shrimp, stay away,” King said. “The guys that are getting some rehab and getting ready to get back, love having them around the locker room.”
Calvin de Haan (non-COVID-19 illness) and scratch Brett Connolly did not play. Kurtis Gabriel made his Hawks debut, and Erik Gustafsson returned to the lineup after getting scratched Wednesday against the Capitals.
King said Gustafsson didn’t like the scratch but understood it.
“He’s been around long enough, and obviously Caleb [Jones] comes in and [scores] the game-winner and has an assist and played well,” King said. “That’s just the way it happens. Again, it’s like the Connolly thing. Somebody had to come out, and your number was drawn. That’s all. Not based on play.”
Defenseman Seth Jones got a kick out of seeing brother Caleb score the Hawks’ game-winner against the Caps.
“That was awesome,” Seth Jones said. “Jumped in the play, used his legs to get up there, and it’s great to see his first as a Hawk, especially in a game like that against a great team. That was a big win. I’m happy for him.”
For the Jones brothers, the game Saturday at Dallas will be a homecoming. Both are from nearby Arlington.