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10 observations: Blackhawks drop third straight to Predators after another slow start

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The Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Nashville Predators 5-1 on Friday at the United Center in their second-to-last home game of the season.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. For the third consecutive game, the Blackhawks fell into a 4-0 hole and couldn't overcome it. They didn't come out with much urgency and it showed. Arvid Söderblom couldn't bail out his team the way Petr Mrazek has done for the majority of the season.

The Blackhawks didn't manage the puck very well. They had 17 giveaways, which is far too many. For context, their season average per 60 minutes is 8.31, which ranks seventh-most in the NHL.

3. The Blackhawks didn't have a great night on special teams. They went 0-for-3 on the penalty kill, and their first two power plays were uneventful before Philipp Kurashev broke through for his 18th of the season in the second period during a 5-on-3 opportunity to put Chicago on the board. Connor Bedard drew both penalties and recorded the primary assist on the goal to hit the 60-point mark on the season.

Filip Forsberg is a special player. He netted a hat trick in this game, and the first goal was his 44th of the season that set a new single-season record in Predators history. He extended that record by adding a couple more for his 45th and 46th of the campaign. Matt Duchene previously held the franchise record with 43 in 2021-22.

5. Ethan Del Mastro was recalled and made his NHL debut. He said the call-up "caught him off guard" because Rockford is preparing for a Calder Cup Playoffs run. He's taken a big step every year since being drafted by Chicago in the fourth round of 2021, and his first professional season in Rockford has been a success — and it's not done yet. The recall was well-deserved. I thought he looked pretty steady in this game. His game should translate well to the NHL.

Del Mastro said he was a little nervous for the rookie solo lap, but he passed the test because he didn't fall and he didn't forget the pucks. His family was in attendance and recorded the lap:

6. Connor Murphy returned to the lineup after missing the last 35 games with a groin strain. It didn't take him long to shake off some rust. There was a play at the end of the second period where he dangled like Connor McDavid and fed a sweet backhand pass to Tyler Johnson, but former Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen made the save.

7. Remember Anthony Beauvillier? He's been struggling to nail down a consistent role for the Predators with only two points (one goal, one assist) in 13 games. He looked pretty good in this game but he's been a healthy scratch a few times and is averaging 12:13 of ice time. Beauvillier has been a historically good playoff performer though, so I wouldn't be surprised if he scores a big goal or two for Nashville in the postseason.

8. Since Feb. 17, only Carolina has more points than the Predators (41), who are 19-4-3 with a +35 goal differential over that span. They were spanked by Dallas 9-2 the game before the streak and GM Barry Trotz cancelled the team's planned early trip to Vegas that was supposed to include a U2 concert at The Sphere. I think Nashville can make a sneaky good run in the playoffs.

9. Frank Nazar and Ryan Greene had their college seasons come to an end on Thursday after Michigan and Boston University were eliminated in the Frozen Four semifinals. The watch is on to see if they'll sign their entry-level contracts in the coming days.

10. Sunday vs. Carolina is the final home game of the season for the Blackhawks. Get your tickets now. Last chance to see Bedard in a meaningful game until October.

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