How it happened: Two first-period goals held up for Nashville as Pekka Rinne turned back almost everything the Hawks threw at him -- which wasn’t very much until late in the game. Nashville took the early lead, thanks to turnovers by Sean O'Donnell and Nick Leddy. Craig Smith and Mike Fisher pounced on them, burying high-percentage shots in the slot area. Without a couple of star forwards in the lineup, the Hawks offense was stagnant, but it did finally manage a power-play tally in the third period by Dave Bolland. That woke up the Hawks, as well as the fans in the building, but a furious last half of the period couldn’t produce the game tying goal. Colin Wilson’s power-play goal into an empty net was the Predators’ final score.
What it means: The Hawks limp into the All-Star break after back-to-back losses to these Predators. Do they have an excuse playing without Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp? Of course, but there is no excuse for getting down early and mustering very little for 50 minutes against a team that just played the night before. Leddy and O’Donnell continue a season-long trend of poor play by Hawks defenders in their own zone. Coach Joel Quenneville tried everything, including Patrick Kane at center, but maybe having to play five rookies in their 12 forwards caught up to them as there seemed to be little line chemistry throughout the night. The break might be coming at the best time in order to get the walking wounded healthy again. Through 50 games the Hawks are 29-15-4.
What’s next: Kane and Marian Hossa will head to Ottawa for the All-Star Game while the rest of the team will scatter until Monday, when they take off for a nine-game road trip that starts in Vancouver next Tuesday. Their next home game is Feb. 19 against St. Louis.