Late lead erased as Blackhawks fall to Blues in overtime


Late lead erased as Blackhawks fall to Blues in overtime

As the time ticked down the Blackhawks still had a shot at securing home ice, still had a chance to control a little bit of what happened down the regular-season stretch.

But two Vladimir Tarasenko goals later, the only thing the Blackhawks know is that they’ll start their postseason on the road.

Jonathan Toews scored his 28th goal of the season, but Tarasenko scored the tying goal late in regulation and the winner in overtime as the Blues came back to beat the Blackhawks, 2-1, on Thursday night. The loss means the Blackhawks will start on the road. Who they play is still unknown. The Dallas Stars and Blues are tied atop the Central; the Blackhawks will play whoever finishes in second place.

The Blackhawks clung to their 1-0 lead until late in regulation. A few seconds after Blues goaltender Brian Elliott vacated the net, Tarasenko scored his 38th to tie it at 1 with 1:16 remaining in regulation. It was Tarasenko again 3:37 into overtime.

“Yeah, it hurts. Hurts for sure,” said Patrick Kane, who assisted on Toews’ goal for his 103rd point of the season. “I thought we played a great game up to that point against a good team. You give one up with (1:16) left, and we’re in a position where you’ve got to score in (1:16) to basically put yourself in a good position to try and get home ice. Obviously it didn’t happen.”

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Coach Joel Quenneville was disappointed but not overly so. The Blackhawks had won their three previous games despite missing players. Considering this was one more game where they were missing Duncan Keith (suspension), Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw, Artem Anisimov and Corey Crawford (all injured), Quenneville could live with it.

“I don’t mind the way we’re playing here,” he said. “We’re missing five guys right now in a game (in which) I thought we played pretty good. I thought we did some good things in a lot of ways, a lot of areas so, I didn’t mind it.”

The Blackhawks weren’t giving the Blues much prior to that final minute-plus. What they did give up, Scott Darling stopped. Darling, making his 11th consecutive start, stopped 24 of 25 in regulation and overtime.

“Yeah, it’s tough, definitely tough,” Darling said. “You want to close out a close game. They made a good play on the goal, and 3-on-3 is anybody’s game.”

The Blues, who are also dealing with some injuries, had their chances. Giving Tarasenko space can be lethal. The Blackhawks did, and it was. Elliott stopped 33 of 35 shots, making several big stops including one on Andrew Ladd’s penalty shot in the third period.

The Blackhawks entered this game potentially having some say in what happened in the first round. Now it’s out of their hands. They know they’re heading on the road, they just don’t know where yet. They played a pretty good game considering some of their top guys were out. Nevertheless, this one hurt.

“We were in a good situation,” Kane said. “I thought we played pretty well all night. I don’t think we gave up much. We had some chances going the other way that could have made the score a little bit different, but didn’t turn out that way, obviously. We’ve got to be better at finishing off those games.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?