Hits keep coming as Blackhawks take on Predators
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have already endured their share of hardships this season.
Now as they prepare to face the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, they'll have to move forward as even more uncertainly surrounds their starting goalie, Corey Crawford. Crawford left Sunday's 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the end of the first period with a concussion.
Crawford, who missed nearly 10 months after sustaining a concussion last December, suffered the injury in a collision with teammate Dylan Strome and was placed on injured reserve (concussion protocol) on Monday. The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Colin Delia from their American Hockey League affiliate on Monday in a corresponding move.
"(Crawford is) such a big part of our team and to lose him, it's not good," defenseman Connor Murphy told reporters after Sunday's loss, according to the team's official website. "You just feel for him because a game like that, we left our goalies hung out to dry. And for them to take guys crashing on him is not even fair either."
The Blackhawks have been struggling even with Crawford in the lineup. Chicago has dropped 10 of its past 11 games and has lost two straight since snapping an eight-game skid with a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now, despite how well captain Jonathan Toews has played lately, the Blackhawks will again have to play without Crawford. Cam Ward, who made 30 saves in the lopsided loss to the Sharks, will, along Delia with now have to fill in for Crawford, who missed the final 47 games of last season the first five games this season with the Crawford.
Chicago has no choice, but to move on without one of their mainstays from their Stanley Cup championship run.
""I mean, you never want to see that, but we have to keep playing," defenseman Duncan Keith told reporters on Sunday, according to the team's official website. "It's just one of those things that hopefully he's back. I don't know what happened, but nothing should change."
The Predators are coming off a 4-3 overtime road loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday that snapped Nashville's three-game winning streak. Nashville surrendered three first-period goals in their first loss since Dec. 8.
The Predators erased the deficit with a pair of Roman Josi goals and another by Craig Smith, whose third-period tally got Nashville to within a goal before Josi tied the game at 3 before Ottawa scored 21 seconds into overtime.
The three Ottawa goals on just 11 shots early chased Pekka Rinne after one period before Juuse Saros made 11 saves.
Now, Nashville will need to quickly move past Monday's loss in the second game of a four-game road trip in which Nashville will play four times in six days. With Rinne's shortened performance Monday and with a heavy workload upcoming, Saros -- who has struggled this season -- may be called on again soon.
But the Predators need to play better in front of him, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said if they hope to continue to find success.
"I'm going to be perfectly honest. I think that we've played lousy in front of (Saros)," Laviolette said over the weekend, according to the Athletic. "There's got to be accountability to the 18 guys that go out in front of him. Just too many odd-man rushes, too many point-blank chances, and that's got to stop. And when that stops, he's going to feel better and look better in there. There's just too much coming at him."
Updated December 17, 2018