Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to Flames: This one stings

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to Flames: This one stings

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night:

1. Another blown lead. 

For the second straight game, the Blackhawks scored the first goal and came up on the losing end. But this one stung way worse than the 4-2 loss to Vancouver on Thursday.

This is a game the Blackhawks really needed to pick up two points in, and preferably in regulation to prevent a Flames team also battling for a wild card spot from moving on up in the standings.

Not only did the Blackhawks fail to secure their two-goal lead in regulation, but they regained the lead to go up 3-2 after the Flames responded with two in a row of their own yet allowed them to still force overtime, where Sean Monahan scored his NHL-leading eighth game-winning goal of the season to pick up the second point.

It was essentially a four-point swing in the blink of an eye, and a game that might be circled on the calendar as one of a handful that got away if the Blackhawks are on the outside of the playoff picture by the end of the season.

2. Lacking the finish.

The Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead into the third period, but took their foot off the gas after recording only three shots on goal in the final frame. That's simply not enough against any team let alone the Flames, who are the fourth-best puck possession team in the league — right below Chicago.

They will eventually make you pay, and they did when former Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik netted his eighth goal of the season at the 9:50 mark of the third period to even it up at 3-3.

3. Missed calls go against Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks had every chance to put the Flames away after going up 2-0 in the second period and then 3-2 in the third, but there were two missed calls in the first that went against them and should at least be mentioned.

The first was a scramble in Mike Smith's crease that showed a Flames player putting his hand over the puck, which by rule should have resulted in a penalty shot for the Blackhawks.

And the second came in the final moments of the period when Nick Schmaltz was clearly tripped while driving hard to the net but went uncalled. The official was right there and perhaps felt like the Flames defender got the puck first but replays confirmed he didn't.

It's no excuse, but who knows what would've happened if the Blackhawks converted on the penalty shot and then got a late power play to carry over into the second period. After all, they did capitalize on their only power play of the night.

4. Nick Schmaltz is turning into a star.

We're reaching the territory where Schmaltz is becoming more of a core player rather than being associated with the young guns.

There's still certainly room for growth, especially in the faceoff department, but since Dec. 10 he's averaging nearly a point per game. He has 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 23 games over that span, and has registered at least a point in 10 of his last 14 games. 

He finished the game with a goal, four shot attempts (one on goal) and two takeaways, with his goal being an absolute missile of a one-timer from Patrick Kane, who had two assists and is one shy of 500 of his NHL career.

5. Jeff Glass unlucky again in hometown.

Joel Quenneville awarded the 32-year-old rookie another start in his hometown of Calgary, and it ended up the same way as it did the first time. Literally.

On Dec. 31, Glass made 35 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Flames and that's exactly what happened the second time around: 35 saves and a 4-3 overtime loss. He again did his part to give the Blackhawks a chance to win but they fell one goal short.

He also submitted an entry for Save of the Year after robbing Monahan of a goal with an acrobatic lunge.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."