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.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

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

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."