Thanks to a great third period and an overtime goal by Brandon Hagel, the Chicago Blackhawks have finally beaten the Nashville Predators.
The ‘Hawks, Predators and Dallas Stars are all battling it out for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. This week is shaping up to be perhaps the most consequential of the Blackhawks’ season, as their three straight games with Nashville could easily decide who secures that final spot. It wouldn’t be wrong to view these three games as a mini playoff series in itself.
In order to guarantee that spot, it would have been great to see the ‘Hawks win all three contests against the Preds, but this was never going to happen. Before tonight’s overtime victory, Chicago hadn’t won a game against Nashville all season, going 0-4-2. Obviously, they were in desperate need of points tonight, and they picked up a pair of them. However, they were also outplayed by the Predators for the majority of the game. Worse than that, they also allowed Nashville to earn a point.
So where do things stand for the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes now? The one saving grace for the ‘Hawks is that they do have one game in hand over the Predators, so they will get one extra chance to earn two points. But their schedule isn’t going to get any easier, and their window for catching up to the last playoff spot is starting to close.
This isn’t to say, though, that the ‘Hawks can’t make the playoffs, but let’s take a look at the situation. With tonight’s win, Chicago has 49 points, Nashville has 52, and Dallas sits between them with 50. The ‘Hawks play the Predators one more time this year on Friday, and even if they were to win in regulation, they’d still be one point behind Nashville.
This is not necessarily a death sentence for the Blackhawks, but it sure would’ve been nice to see them win in regulation tonight and gain two points against Nashville. This would’ve also meant that they’d have the potential to go up four points against them on Friday, which they are now unable to do.
This doesn’t mean that everything should be looked at in a negative light. However, the ‘Hawks will have to make sure they grab as many wins as possible heading into May. Unfortunately, as I stated, their schedule isn’t getting any easier.
They have three straight games next month against the Carolina Hurricanes. After that, they end the season with a pair against Dallas, and these two games could also end up being a factor in who gets left on the outside looking in.
Hopefully, the Blackhawks are able to gain some momentum from tonight’s comeback win and grab another victory on Friday. If they do, then they can keep their push for the playoffs going. Sadly, if they aren’t able to do so, then their hopes for the postseason might end up disappearing.