Blackhawks can’t overcome mediocre start in overtime loss to Stars

Blackhawks can’t overcome mediocre start in overtime loss to Stars

The third period was an energetic one for the Blackhawks, at least through the first half of it. The shots were there. So were the good scoring opportunities. So was the necessary urgency. Before that, however…

“Yeah, just not really much going on,” Patrick Kane said of the first two periods of the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. “I thought we had the puck and then we gave it away and it was tough to get it back. We started buzzing a little bit in the third and had some momentum which was good to see. But not much really going on. I think we had 10 shots after two, which is unacceptable.”

It was an unacceptable opening 40 minutes for the Blackhawks, who could use every point they can get in an already tight Central Division. The good work they’ve built up through most of November wasn’t there enough on Thursday. The power play was listless. The shot count wasn’t acceptable until late. After so many consistent games, the Blackhawks took a bit of a step back against the Stars.

“Good first 10 minutes of the third. We slowed down a bit again after we tied it up,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t have enough pace with the puck, pressure on the puck or enough of the puck. And what we did with it, we gave them a lot of quality opportunities because we didn’t keep it or protect it.”

If there was any consistency it came from Alex DeBrincat and Artem Anisimov. The Blackhawks had 41 goals in November, and DeBrincat and Anisimov combined for 19 of them.

“Both had great months. Cat went to a higher level than we’ve seen, tremendous upside, a threat every time he was out there tonight,” Quenneville said. “Arty’s been consistent as well, productive, net presence, defensively responsible, so he’s had a great month and we need arty to keep going and we need some guys to get going.”

And that’s got to be the mantra for the Blackhawks from here on out. At times in November, it looked like they were righting the ship. They were playing better hockey, finally scoring goals after starting the month in an offensive drought. But there are still too many who aren’t bringing the consistent performances. The top line had a so-so night. Richard Panik is struggling mightily; as Quenneville said, if he’s not scoring he at least has to bring the physical element more.

The Blackhawks did some good on Thursday but not enough. The production through most of this one was, as Kane said, unacceptable. There’s a lot of season left but the Blackhawks are already fighting for position in the standings, and they’ll see the Stars again on Saturday night. The Blackhawks started trending in the right direction in November but they need more. It won’t be getting any easier.

“Disappointing, obviously. We just needed to get the win. In the standings we had a tie before that game. We needed to find a way to make points, win the game,” Artem Anisimov said. “It’s going to be a big game for both teams [on Saturday].”

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”