Our Pledge To You

Blackhawks

Predators 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT): Furious Toews, Seabrook sick, Roquan Smith cameo

Hardly anyone thinks the Blackhawks have a shot at saving this season.

They’ve been ruled out repeatedly and looked like they were finally cooling down Wednesday against the Predators.

But they won’t fold.

With about 2½ minutes left in the third period, Artem Anisimov rescued the Hawks by flipping a loose puck past Pekka Rinne to tie the game. Predators forward Filip Forsberg ended it with a goal one minute into overtime to hand the Hawks a 4-3 defeat.

Dan Hamhuis #5 of the Nashville Predators pins Drake Caggiula #91 of the Chicago Blackhawks to the ice | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Nashville won the opening faceoff and essentially played keep-away to wear down the Hawks’ top line, then came at them with a fresh line. Seconds later, Forsberg slipped by Jonathan Toews to get the game-winner.

Toews yelled and slammed his stick on the crossbar.

“Thought I could snag the puck, but their forward is obviously a pretty good puck-carrier and strong on it and managed to beat me,” he said.

Pushing the Predators to overtime extends the Hawks’ run of avoiding back-to-back regulation losses to nearly a month, and they’re 7-4-3 since the last time it happened.

They held it together thanks largely to Toews cutting the deficit to 3-2 near the end of the second period.

He got the puck 10 seconds into a Nashville power play and made a long pass to Marcus Kruger, who was heading to the net. Kruger chased it down and dropped it to a trailing Toews for a wrist shot that beat Rinne for the team’s fourth short-handed goal of the season.

“Things really got dark there for a few minutes . . . then Toews finishes,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “That changed the game, put us in a situation to come back.”

It was Toews’ 18th goal. He has six points in the last five games. Collin Delia saved 33 of 37 shots.

Jokiharju jumps in

The Hawks got rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju on the ice for the first time since Dec. 16, and he had one hit and one blocked shot in 16:45. The team loaned him to Finland for the IIHF World Junior Championship, where he helped his country win gold Saturday.

RELATED
• Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat rising to star level, eclipsing rookie season
• Here’s the deal: Blackhawks’ Collin Delia isn’t backing down from anybody

Jokiharju, 19, had two goals and three assists in seven games for the Finnish team, and Colliton thinks the experience will pay off.

“It’s confidence that he can be a difference-maker,” Colliton said. “Hopefully, he can bring that swagger. We know he has the ability. When you’re a young pro, sometimes you don’t assert yourself. We want him to do that.”

Quick hits

Brent Seabrook didn’t play because of an unspecified illness. The team is off until Saturday’s home game against Vegas.

† Corey Crawford was at the United Center in the morning, but Colliton said there’s no change in his status, and he remains in the concussion protocol. He has been out since Dec. 16.

† The league’s Last Men In vote for the upcoming All-Star Game ends Thursday at 10:59 p.m. Toews is one of seven candidates to be added to the Central team.

† Bears linebacker Roquan Smith was at the game in a customized Hawks jersey and took part in a second-intermission contest with three shots from center ice. He made none.