NASHVILLE – Even as recent as two weeks ago, there was still hope that the final Saturday of the NHL regular season would have some drama for the Blackhawks.
But their efforts to snag the final Wild Card in the Western Conference finally ran out of steam after a West Coast trip in the last week of March, and led to the team’s elimination from contention last Tuesday.
That made their season finale against the Predators very anti-climatic. About the only thing Blackhawks fans might have been rooting for, other than a good effort, was a hat trick from Patrick Kane that would have given him a career-high 47 goals.
It didn’t happen, though Kane did add to his career-high 109 points in what was a strong early performance by the Blackhawks. But an early lead fizzled in the final two periods, with playoff-bound Nashville scoring five-straight goals to finish off the game and the visitor’s season. The 5-2 defeat ends Jeremy Colliton’s first Blackhawks team with a 36-34-12 record, with the 84 points being eight more than they had last season.
Still, the result is the same.
The Blackhawks are watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the sidelines for the second-straight year, which is a first since the team missed five-straight between the 2002-2003 and the 2007-2008 seasons (No playoffs in 2004-2005 due to the lockout). While the team made a valiant push for the last playoff spot in the new year, like their game on Saturday, it faded towards the end.
Brendan Perlini and Drake Caggiula had the last two goals for the Blackhawks this season, with both scores in the first period giving the team the lead. But the two-goal advantage evaporated despite a strong effort from Cam Ward who made 45 saves against a strong Predators attack.
Eventually, Nashville got two past the goalie in the second then took the lead in the third on a Viktor Arvidsson score, adding and empty-netter and a Nick Bonino score in the last minute to finish the season.
Sadness over the season’s end was light for most Blackhawks’ fans since their fate was sealed well before this game. But the sting of missing the postseason again, along with the fact that they haven’t won a playoff series since 2015, figures to linger during another long summer.