The Chicago Blackhawks’ extended COVID-19 break took a toll on its goaltending depth, as Collin Delia was recalled from Rockford to start in net for today’s matinee game in Tennessee against the pesky Nashville Predators, as Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Lankinen were out due to COVID-19 protocol rules. Arvid Soderblom was also called up to back up Delia.
Blackhawk forward Jujhar Khaira was also back on the ice after taking a nasty hit in December and missing time. Today’s game was the first for the Blackhawks since a road overtime loss at the Dallas Stars on Dec. 18.
Blackhawks lines vs. Predators:
De Haan-Seth Jones
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) January 1, 2022
Just 66 seconds into the first period, Predators forward Filip Forsberg beat Delia high glove side for a quick 1–0 lead for his 15th goal of the season. This was definitely not the start Delia was looking for in his first start this season. Forsberg has a sneaky quick shot, but this is a goal Delia should have had early on to get his game going.
FILin good! pic.twitter.com/4RHV6afPXN
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) January 1, 2022
At the 5:52 mark of the period, Predators forward Ryan Johansen scored after Forsberg won a board battle and found Johansen all alone for a quick breakaway, beating Delia with a nice juke move before sliding into the net. Johansen’s 10th goal of the season came after defenseman Seth Jones took a slashing penalty and Nashville’s Michael McCarron went off for unsportsmanlike conduct, leaving the teams 4-on-4.
After forward Dylan Strome went off for tripping at the 17:27 mark, Nashville extended their lead to 3–0 after defenseman Mattias Ekholm scored his second from the point on a quick wrist shot. The goal came on Nashville’s seventh shot of the period, as the Blackhawks peppered Juuse Saros for 15 shots without finding the back of the net.
The Predators would not waste much time when Tanner Jeannot scored 28 ticks into the second period and defenseman Roman Josi scored at the 5:34 mark. Both goals came after Derek King made a switch in net to Soderblom, who entered to make his NHL debut. With the score 5–0, Chicago still had an 18–15 advantage in shots.
Chicago finally found the back of the net when Philipp Kurashev beat Saros for his second goal this season. Defenseman Calvan de Haan created a nice rush up the center of the ice and found a streaking Kurashev on the right wing, who beat Saros blocker side to shorten the Predators lead to 5–1.
First goal of 2022 pic.twitter.com/0rejSZpeSN
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) January 1, 2022
For the third time this game, the Predators scored in the first 1:02 of a period when Jeannot scored his second goal of the game. A shot from Matt Benning from the point looked harmless until Jeannot tipped home the shot behind Soderblom.
Chicago did outshoot Nashville 38–24 in the game.
Turn the page to tomorrow’s home contest against the Calgary Flames. Chicago was off the ice for 14 days, while Nashville played their fourth game in six days. Throw out the tape and move on. It is hard to replicate game situations for two weeks and play your first game back with your Rockford goaltenders.