With a two-game series against the Red Wings, the Blackhawks could have closed the gap on the Nashville Predators.

The Blackhawks’ performance in Thursday’s 4-1 loss proves they thought it would be just as easy.

Three shots, two posts, one goal for the first

The Blackhawks’ hopes of beating the Red Wings from the first face-off quickly evaporated in the first few minutes of the game. Neither team was able to generate much attack and both teams produced just one shot on goal in the first five minutes.

In the middle of that period, the Blackhawks finally began to turn the ice in their favor. They almost scored the first goal of the game, but counter-attacks by Duncan Keith and Kirby Duch were cleared by the goal post.

Later in the period, Keith finally broke through to give the Blackhawks their first lead of the game. Keith took a pass from Alex DeBrincat and scored his second goal in as many games from the top of the left circle.

He now has three goals on the season and ranks third in Blackhawks history for goals scored by a defenseman with 104.

The Blackhawks closed out the first period with three shots on goal, two shots to the post and a one point lead.

Terrible second third

The Blackhawks were down 3-0 in the second period despite a six-minute power play.

With Adam Boqvist out with a concussion, Head Coach Jeremy Colliton drafted the first power play unit with five attackers. The experiment proved unsuccessful, and the Blackhawks as a team only took four shots on goal during their power play.

The Red Wings’ first goal was scored by Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen in unusual fashion. Detroit’s Troy Stetcher attempts a harmless shot from the blue line. The shot ricochets off Lankinen’s blocker, goes over his shoulder and into the net.

Detroit scored two more goals with two minutes left in the second period. The Blackhawks took 11 shots on goal, but none of them looked dangerous and the visitors were outplayed.

Natural Stat Trick gave the Blackhawks two 5v5 scoring chances in the second period, but they failed to reach the crease.

Blackhawks show little urgency in decisive third period

The Blackhawks were expected to step up their game in the third period when they were facing the league’s worst team against a two goal deficit.

I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

They took three shots in the first ten minutes of the third and played on their side most of the time.

The Blackhawks created 10 scoring chances in the final period, but only three were dangerous and never seemed to threaten Detroit’s lead.

In the end, the Blackhawks were 3-1 and now have a 20-19-5 season record. They remain four points behind the Nashville Predators, who occupy the final playoff spot. Chicago had a prime opportunity to close the point gap given the caliber of their opponent and Nashville’s loss against the Carolina Hurricanes, but they couldn’t capitalize.

A difficult road to travel

For the final 12 games of the season, the Blackhawks face Detroit again on Saturday before playing each of the four teams ahead of them in the standings.

Chicago may have looked a little ahead tonight, knowing that the rest of their schedule is a serious problem, as the Wings are at the bottom of the division.

The outcome of Saturday’s game has a major impact on the Blackhawks’ playoff chances, so let’s hope their performance is better than today’s.

What now?

The Blackhawks will try to pick up two points when they take on the Red Wings Saturday night at 6 p.m. before traveling to Nashville on Monday.

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