Nightmare road trip continues with ninth-straight loss


NASHVILLEThe Chicago Blackhawks were back in Nashville, back where this epic losing streak began on Jan. 21. They came in desperately looking for a break to turn into the winning direction again.

But all the ones they get right now are going against themand ending up right into the back of their net.

Ryan Ellis game-winning goal deflected off Duncan Keiths stick and past Ray Emery, as the Blackhawks dropped a 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks are now winless in nine straight (0-8-1), and the gap between them and the top five in the Western Conference is growing. The Hawks remain in sixth place, but they now trail fifth-place Nashville by seven points.

You look at the stretch we had here, we had different ways not to come out on top. But tonight it looked like we were doing things we wanted to do. Get it to overtime and see what happens. But that hurt, coach Joel Quenneville said. Its disappointing in a lot of ways because we were doing what we wanted to do and at the end of the day, its like, OK.

Yes, this game just added to the already high frustration level because the Blackhawks were doing more right than wrong. They responded well after a Predators first-period goal, getting one from Bryan Bickell entering the first intermission, and seemed to be doing what was necessary to break the slump.

But as coaches say, you make your breaks. And for a team reeling like the Blackhawks are, theyre all going the other way.

Right now its hard to talk after another loss, said Marian Hossa, whose third-period goal tied the game 2-2 at the time. Maybe its going to sound like an old song but I thought we battled tonight. We did a lot of good things, spent lots of time in their zone. At the (other) end, one redirected puck ended up in our net. That hurts.

Ray Emery stopped 16 of 19 and was especially stinging over that final goal. Ellis shot deflected off Keiths stick and between Emerys legs with less than six minutes remaining in regulation.

Thats one that I really want to stop. It just hits off the defenseman, Emery said. We really have to stop the trend somewhere. So I really have to stop that.

The Blackhawks fired 32 shots at Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. There were some good chances, and the Blackhawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp had 10 of those 32 shots. It didnt matter. Rinne either saw them or got enough of them to keep out of harms way.

The Blackhawks have run the gamut during this losing skidfrom games where theyve been terribly outplayed to games like Tuesday night, when they did enough to get something out of it.

The frustration builds.

We had some good things out of that game but its not good enough, Bickell said. (The frustration level) is what you imagine. Its really tough right now .

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