Kevin Henderson got a memory to last a lifetime, but the Nashville Predators’ 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday was just the latest defeat in a forgettable finish to the 2012-13 season.
Henderson scored a goal in his NHL debut after having been recalled earlier in the day. He slammed home a rebound at 10:42 of the first and gave the Predators a 2-1 advantage.
"I was fortunate to get the goal there and help the team out, but it was just an amazing experience for me," Henderson said. "I was just by myself, and knew I got a stick on it. I was just ecstatic."
The lead lasted fewer than four minutes and was the only one the Predators had in their eighth straight loss, albeit the first in that stretch in which they earned a point. They managed to force the game to overtime but lost 52 seconds into the extra period when Blackahwks forward Marian Hossa scored on the power play.
Nashville has lost four times to Chicago this month and six straight overall, dating back to last season. All of those losses to the Blackhawks have come in the last 12 games, of which the Predators lost 11.
"Everybody's pushing to try to get a win," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It's one thing or another. All their goals were turnovers."
Henderson, 26, nearly pushed his way into the NHL earlier this season. The left wing had 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in 65 games for Milwaukee before he finally got the opportunity.
He was teammates with fellow Predators forwards Nick Splaing and Matt Halischuk (Halischuk had two goals and an assist Friday) with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League but then spent two seasons in Canada’s college ranks and the last three in the minor leagues. He signed with Nashville as a free agent last summer.
“A couple times when we were getting lean on forwards, he was the next guy to be called up,” Trotz said. “He was playing well and all that. Then when we actually needed guys and guys were hurt, he was hurt. So he’d just had some bad timing in terms of playing really well at certain times. He’s deserved a couple call-ups this year … but we were able to get healthy enough to play.
“It’s an opportunity to show what he can do.”
For a team that is next-to-last in the NHL in goals per game, the fact that he scored one is tough to overlook.