RECAP: Preds bury Blackhawks in Del Mastro’s debut


The Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Nashville Predators at the United Center in the Hawks’ penultimate home game of the 2023–24 season on Friday night. The game marked the return of Connor Murphy after a 34-game absence due to a groin injury. In addition, the Blackhawks got a close look at another one of their prospects when defenseman Ethan Del Mastro made his NHL debut. Paired alongside the veteran Murphy, Del Mastro, a 21-year-old fourth-round pick in 2021 who is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs on Thursday by the Hawks after posting 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists) in 66 games. Del Mastro represented the IceHogs in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose earlier this year. The Hawks started Arvid Soderblom in goal against former Blackhawk netminder Kevin Lankinen, who started for Nashville.

First period

Filip Forsberg opened the scoring with his 44th of the season at the 5:53 mark, which set a new single-season franchise record for goals. With the Preds on the power play, Forsberg retrieved the puck at the left half boards and threw a knuckler toward the net that went past a screened Soderblom to give Nashville a 1–0 lead.

Nashville took a 2–0 lead in the final minute on Kiefer Sherwood’s 10th goal of the season. The Preds pinned the Hawks in their own zone thanks to an aggressive forecheck. Sherwood eventually pounced on his own rebound at the 19:03 mark to give the Preds a two-goal advantage after one.

Second period

Nashville took a 3–0 lead on Forsberg’s second of the game and 45th of the season to pad his team record. Kevin Korchinski had trouble gathering the puck and turned it over to Forsberg in front of the Hawks’ net and he buried it at the 5:22 mark.

With the Hawks shorthanded, Jason Zucker scored his 14th of the season to give Nashville a 4–0 advantage. Zucker used his trademark speed to skate into the Hawks’ zone along the boards, gain a step on Murphy and cut to the net and lift a backhand shot past Soderblom at 9:39.

The Hawks finally got on the scoreboard on Philipp Kurashev’s 18th of the season. With the Blackhawks on a 5-on-3 power play, Connor Bedard took the puck at the blue line and fed Kurashev in the left circle for a one-timer that beat Lankinen at 16:58. The Preds took a three-goal lead after 40 minutes into the second intermission.

Third period

Forsberg completed the hat trick with his 46th of the season on the power play to give Nashville a 5–1 lead. Luke Evangelista gathered the puck at the point, fed Ryan O’Reilly down low at the side of the net and he went back door to Forsberg, who buried the one-timer at 1:37 of the third. The score would hold through the final buzzer, as Lankinen won his second game against his former team.


On a night where very little went right, the lone bright spot was the defensive pairing of Del Mastro and Murphy. When on the ice, the duo had more shots for than shots against and provided the Hawks with a physical presence throughout the game. The Hawks’ penalty kill struggled again as they gave up three power play goals to the Preds on six chances. The Hawks play their final home game of the season on Sunday evening against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is at 5 p.m. CST on NBCSCH with the radio call on WGN 720 AM.

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