Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Golden Knights: From bad to worse

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Golden Knights: From bad to worse

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday night:

1. Third-period flurry dooms Blackhawks.

Entering Tuesday, the Blackhawks hadn't lost in regulation when leading after two periods (15-0-3). Vegas quickly changed that with three goals in a span of 3:40 within the first five minutes of the third period.

Before that, Jeff Glass was bouncing back nicely having stopped 24 of 25 shots for a .960 save percentage through two periods. But things unraveled in the blink of an eye and it was the downfall to the Blackhawks' seventh straight loss.

2. Busy night for special teams.

One of the few brights spot for the Blackhawks this season has been the penalty kill. And boy were they busy in this one.

The Blackhawks committed three minor penalties in the first 20 minutes, and seven total, spending 12:20 of the 60 minutes killing penalties; that's more than 20 percent of the game. They were able to kill off all but one, cracking in the third period when Brad Hunt scored the first of four Vegas goals in the frame.

On the other part of special teams, things are starting to turn in a positive direction. For the fifth time in six games, the Blackhawks have scored a power-play goal. But it's too little, too late.

3. Alex DeBrincat keeps shining.

Let's focus on another bright spot in the Blackhawks' season. DeBrincat scored a goal in his second straight game to give him 21 on the season, which is tied with Patrick Kane for most on the team. He also tied Kane for fifth-most goals in a season by a Blackhawks player aged 20 or younger, according to TSN StatsCentre.

DeBrincat added an assist to move up to 36 points on the season, surpassing Jonathan Toews for third on the team and fifth among all rookies. It was also his sixth multi-point effort of his NHL career.

4. Tommy Wingels taking advantage of promotion.

After logging a season-high 15:51 of ice time one night ago, Wingels was put on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad to add an element of physicality up front and some net-front presence, something the Blackhawks have clearly lacked all season. Joel Quenneville even went as far as putting him on the first power-play unit, where he spent 4:14 of those 15:51 minutes.

And Wingels took full advantage of that opportunity. He cashed in on the power play just 2:10 into the game when he redirected an Erik Gustafsson shot from the point to put the Blackhawks up 1-0. Wingels finished with seven shot attempts, a team-high four on goal and two hits. 

He could be a nice depth player for any contending team looking to fill out their bottom six.

5. Patrick Sharp's noticeable return.

Sharp had been a healthy scratch in six of the last nine games going into Vegas, but he was very noticeable in his return to the lineup.

Sharp first made his presence felt towards the latter stages of the first period when he delivered a heavy hit on Shea Theodore. And then 2:59 into the second period, he was awarded a penalty shot but was denied by Marc-Andre Fleury.

Not long after, Sharp registered a primary assist on DeBrincat's power-play goal that made it 2-1 Blackhawks. It was Sharp's first point since he registered two on Jan. 9, a drought of eight games. Always nice to see him show flashes.

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: