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updated: 11/16/2013 10:51 PM

Tough night all around for Blackhawks

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  • Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is attended to after injuring his left leg in the first period Saturday night.

      Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is attended to after injuring his left leg in the first period Saturday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

Maybe it wasn't the biggest game of Nikolai Khabibulin's career.

This is a guy, after all, who has won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final over Calgary when he was with Tampa Bay.

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But it was still a big game for Khabibulin on Saturday night against Nashville as far as his career with the Hawks is concerned.

It was Khabibulin's first game since Oct. 29, when he was pulled against Ottawa after allowing 4 goals on 22 shots, which came on the heels of a 6-5 overtime loss to the Lightning.

The 40-year-old Khabibulin on Saturday never made it out of the first period of a game the Hawks lost 7-2, but not because of the 2 somewhat shaky goals he allowed to Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling 57 seconds apart in the first nine minutes.

Khabibulin left the game at 15:23 when he hurt his left leg trying to stop a shot by Shea Weber that sailed wide. Khabibulin, who made a save on Patrick Hornqvist while on the ice in distress, had to be helped to the dressing room and was replaced by Corey Crawford.

The lower-body injury could sideline Khabibulin indefinitely. Antti Raanta likely will be recalled from Rockford to back up Crawford for at least the short term.

"We'll know more tomorrow, but it could be a bit," Quenneville told reporters after the game. "We're not worried about (Sunday). We'll talk in a bit here about what we're going to do."

Everything that could go wrong for the Hawks did go wrong as their eight-game points streak and four-game winning streak came to an end.

"We were very generous in gifting tonight on their goals," Quenneville said. "We took it to a different level. I hadn't seen that in a long time. It was a free night for them offensively. We were very gracious.

"We know what it takes. We knew they were going to be desperate. They lose four in a row and they come home, get some energy in the building. They were definitely the more deserving team in all areas."

The Hawks played without Marian Hossa, who was a late scratch because of a lower-body injury. "He was going into warm-up thinking there was a chance he could play," Quenneville said.

Predators goalie Marek Mazanec made 39 saves for his first NHL win. The Predators took a 4-0 lead on goals by Hornqvist on a power play and Craig Smith at 18:18 against Crawford in the second period.

A late goal by Patrick Kane made it 4-1 going to the third period and Brandon Pirri brought the Hawks within 4-2 at 6:14 of the third. But the Hawks lost all the momentum they had when Viktor Stalberg scored 15 seconds after Pirri off a great pass from Gabriel Bourque.

Late goals by Mike Fisher and Weber left Crawford so frustrated he busted his stick over the net.

The Hawks were 0-for-4 on the power play and allowed 2 power-play goals, making it 5 in the last three games.

"It's one game," Quenneville said. "Let's go. Let's move forward and learn from it."

The loss spoiled the return of Kris Versteeg, who primarily played right wing on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell and had 1 assist.

"We're happy to have him back," Patrick Sharp told reporters. "It's nice to see a familiar face in the locker room and catch up on some old stories. I think Steeger has an advantage over most guys going back to an organization that knows him quite well. He's got a lot of friends in here, but chemistry is not an issue in here anyway."

•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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