'Bad habit' of coughing up lead dooms Blackhawks in Game 3


'Bad habit' of coughing up lead dooms Blackhawks in Game 3

If there's been an Achilles heel for the Blackhawks during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's been their "bad habit" of coughing up leads too quickly.

Through 20 postseason games it hasn't come back to bite the Blackhawks yet.

But it's an area Chicago must shore up if they want to hoist Lord Stanley for the third time since 2010 after Monday's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Less than five minutes into the third period Marian Hossa sent a pass through the slot to Brandon Saad who gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the night on a quick one-timer that beat the glove of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.

[MORE HAWKS: Ben Bishop holds off Blackhawks as Lightning take a 2-1 series lead]

Before the 22,336 Blackhawks fans that were in attendance at the United Center were able to finish humming "Chelsea Dagger" Lightning struck.

Just 13 seconds later Lightning forward Ondrej Palat went hard to the net and grabbed the rebound on a Nikita Kucherov shot to sneak the puck past Corey Crawford, evening the game up at the 4:27 mark of the third period.

It became an occurrence that the Blackhawks are all too familiar with this postseason.

"It’s frustrating," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "A lot of things that we did today gave us the feeling we were going to come out on top. The effort we gave. Just a couple bad habits ended up hurting us. We’re all responsible for that. This game could have been similar to the way we stole Game 1 from them. We feel like we had a lot of chances, especially early in the game. Late in the game, we gave up those odd-man rushes we’ve been talking about. We’ll improve in that area and use as motivation to find that anger, the emotion we need to bounce back.

"Mistakes happen. We’ll improve on it and move on. It’s all we can do now."

Palat's tally was the tenth goal the Blackhawks have allowed in the postseason that came less than two minutes after scoring a goal of their own, with six of those goals coming less than one minute after scoring.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

Is it a cause of concern for Chicago?

"Big shift after goals, either way, we should be excited about being out there," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "They got it to the net, loose puck ends up in the back of our net. You’d like to be going the other way after a draw but certainly, you can’t give up that type of goal."

Game 3 was the second straight contest the Blackhawks have lost to the Lightning after coughing up a quick lead. Teuvo Teravainen put the Blackhawks out in front in the second period of Game 2 before Kucherov scored less than two minutes later.

Despite the quick strikes happening 10 times this postseason the Blackhawks aren't looking at it as a "mental" problem.

"Mentally, we always try to talk about that," Blackhawks center Brad Richards said. "Things happen. I didn’t exactly see everything that happened, but the other team wants to score too after that. They’re trying to come out and have a strong shift after the goal. I know it has happened a lot to us after a goal and we’ve addressed it. Sometimes that’s just hockey."

While it's easy to look at Palat's goal as the turning point in Game 3, the Blackhawks had their chances early and could've possible put the game away in the first 20 minutes.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks fan CM Punk calls out Hulk Hogan]

After withstanding an early push from the Lightning, the Blackhawks dominated play for the final 15 minutes of the first period. With Bishop clearly laboring, the Blackhawks fired 19 shots his way as he turned away all but 18 of them. However, their two best scoring chances came when Bishop was nowhere near his goal crease. Both Hossa and Teravainen had wide-open nets in the first period and both attempts sailed wide of the net. What could have been a two goal lead for the home team turned into a tie game after 20 minutes of play.

Now, the Blackhawks find themselves in a 2-1 hole as they head into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

It's not unfamiliar territory for the Blackhawks, who are in the same position as they were heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. 

And the last time the Blackhawks trailed a Stanley Cup Final series? In 2013 when they trailed the Boston Bruins 2-1 before rattling off three straight wins en route to the Stanley Cup.

"Usually in every series, Game 4 is really huge," Hossa said. "It’s either a tie or go down by two games. We have been in this situation, and like I said, we just have to take a rest and be ready."


Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick


Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

The Blackhawks dealt defenseman Michael Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kempny had seven points in 31 games this season.

Kempny, 27, recorded 15 points in 81 career games for the Blackhawks. He tallied an assist in Saturday's 7-1 victory over the Capitals.

Kempny signed a one-year extension through the end of this season back in May.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.