CHICAGO | By necessity, the Teuvo Hype had to be put aside for a few hours Sunday night with the Blackhawks charged with keeping pace in the Central Division race.
The slogging Nashville Predators beat the Hawks, this time 2-0, for the second time in nine days at the United Center. The hosts might have wanted 19-year-old Finnish wunderkind Teuvo Teravainen, still inactive, to have played and served as a distraction from the disheartening defeat.
This setback was even more costly in the effort to overhaul the division-leading St. Louis Blues than the Predators’ 3-2 victory on March 14 that drew criticism from Hawks coach Joel Quenneville about his team’s execution and effort. He had no such complaints Sunday night, but admitted scoring chances are at a premium against the slowdown style of the Predators.
The Blues had defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 earlier in the day. The Hawks knew exactly what was needed to keep within four points of the leaders.
They instead lost ground in the standings as the Predators scored two goals on Corey Crawford on 13 shots in the first two periods, finishing with 17 for the game. Meanwhile, opposing netminder Pekka Rinne made 29 saves and recorded his first shutout of the season.
The Hawks also were thwarted in their attempt to win three in a row for the first time since Dec. 8 to 11.
The outcome obviously affected the Hawks’ postgame mood. Only two players appeared afterward to speak to media.
“I think it is a little bit frustrating,” said defenseman Duncan Keith. “I don’t think they outplayed us. We felt we had the puck more than them. It’s kind of the game they played. The goaltender is a big part of their team. We didn’t find a way to get any behind him.”
Said Jonathan Toews: “We had some parts of the game where we played pretty well ... Frustrating not to find the offense. (Rinne’s) a good goaltender. He’s not the only good goaltender in the league.
Mike Fisher re-directed Ryan Ellis’ shot just past Crawford’s right skate for a 1-0 lead near the end of the first. Near the end of the second, Gabriel Bourque rushed to slam a slapper home from the near the left dot for a 2-0 lead.
Even with point-blank chances, the Hawks failed to score on 5 1/2 minutes of power-play time in the second period.
“It could be better,” Keith said of the power play. “The last couple of days, sometimes it’s trouble entering the zone. Other times, it’s been a little bit tougher setting it up. We’re missing (Patrick Kane) a little bit, but it shouldn’t be that big a deal.”
Meanwhile, Quenneville said Teravainen has a “good chance” of playing Tuesday against the Dallas Stars after engaging in several skating sessions since Friday.