Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Monday:
1. Manufacturing a point
The Blackhawks had a good opportunity on the table. After Arizona lost, they could've pulled within three points of a wildcard spot with a game in hand if they pulled out a victory.
Instead, they settled for the one point, which was obviously important because it moved them within two games. But they weren't satisfied with their effort, especially against a Canucks team that was on the second of a back-to-back and started their 23-year-old rookie goaltender who had only five career NHL starts going into the game.
"We had a chance to jump on ‘em, try to wear them down early and take control of the game and just let them hang around," said Jonathan Toews, who's now three goals away from tying his career high of 34 set during the 2008-09 season. "We didn’t have the speed and pace we needed early on. Obviously it’s nice to get that point. But tough finish."
2. The pros and cons
There's good news and bad news regarding the effort the Blackhawks turned in.
The good news? The defense was solid, allowing only nine total high danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com, after giving up 24 to Montreal and 18 to Toronto.
The bad news? The offense generated just six of their own and were held to two goals, which is below their season average of 3.35 per game. There weren't many high quality opportunities. But the Canucks took advantage of theirs and the Blackhawks didn't until late.
"We didn’t come out hard enough," Erik Gustafsson said. "We know they’re playing back to back and we talked about it before. We needed to come out much harder today. Just a bad 60 minutes. At least we got one point. But we need two now. It’s not fun."
3. Playing down to opponents?
The Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives. Every point matters, no matter who the opponent is. But lately they haven't been bringing their A-game against teams below them in the standings. They lost to Los Angeles, barely escaped Anaheim and were fortunate to pick up a point against the Canucks.
Is that a trend or just a blip?
"There's been nights where we've played down, for sure," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I don't know if that's a consistent thing, but obviously there's been some instances where we would've liked to play better against teams we're ahead of in the standings. But we also had a pretty good run there in January where we were beating teams that we needed to beat and that's why we're here. We didn't have it tonight, but we did manufacture a point and gotta just use the two days to reload here and get back at it."
4. Patrick Kane hits century mark
For the second time in his NHL career, Kane has hit the 100-point mark. It was only a matter of when, not if. And after going pointless in Montreal, he didn't have to wait too much longer to do it.
With a primary assist on Toews' power-play goal in the first period, Kane became the third player in franchise history to record multiple 100-point seasons, joining Jeremy Roenick (three times) and Denis Savard (five). He also became the fifth American-born player to accomplish that feat.
Kane joins Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton's Connor McDavid as the first three players to reach 100 points this season. Kane's career high is 106, set during the 2015-16 campaign when he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophy. And with 10 games remaining, there's a good chance he breaks that, too.
Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday:
1. Blackhawks left wanting more
The Blackhawks were easily the better team at even strength against one of the deepest teams in the NHL. They led in total shot attempts (84-49), shots on goal (44-30), even-strength scoring chances (36-20) and even-strength high-danger chances (16-9), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't pull out a win.
The Blackhawks put up 44 shots on goal against a Capitals team that allowed the second-fewest shots per game (27.8) going into the matchup. They deserved a better fate.
"I think we dictated most of the play tonight and we weren't rewarded for it, but that's the way hockey works sometimes," Drake Caggiula said. "You don't always get the bounces, you don't always get the results you're looking for, even if you play the prototypical game or the perfect game. We didn't get rewarded tonight but this is something we can build off of heading into the next one."
2. Kirby Dach's NHL debut
After being sidelined for the first week of training camp and working his way back from a concussion, the Blackhawks' No. 3 overall pick finally made his much-anticipated NHL debut. And he held his own.
Dach centered the second line with Dylan Strome playing left wing and Patrick Kane in his usual spot at right wing. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and went 1-for-5 at the faceoff circle in 13:41 of ice time. His only noticeable blemish was not picking up Alex Ovechkin in time before he rifled a shot past Corey Crawford.
"Obviously you want to win in your first game in and help the team that way, but I felt good out there," Dach said. "But at the same time, there's things I can clean up in my game to kind of help the team moving forward."
3. Special teams is the difference
The reason the Blackhawks lost this game was their lack of success on special teams. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play, which included a four-minute double minor in the second period.
It was unfortunate because the Capitals entered Sunday's matchup with a +11 goal differential and +44 shot differential in the second period and a -5 goal differential and -13 shot differential in the first and third periods combined, but the Blackhawks couldn't capitalize in the middle frame even thought they outshot them 15-9. Caggiula's goal was negated just 1:28 after by Nic Down.
"You can look at in the second there, we had a lot of momentum, give up a shorthanded goal, so we gotta be better in that department," Kane said. "We also gotta be better on the power play. Comes down to things like that, but good team and I thought we had a pretty good effort overall tonight."
4. Third line stands out again
The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad continues to be the driving force on offense for the Blackhawks, especially when it comes to possession. They were on the ice for 22 shot attempts for and nine against, 14 scoring chances for and four against, six high-danger chances for and one against, and one goal for and zero against in 9:07 of 5-on-5 ice time.
Kubalik led the charge with 14 shot attempts (10 on goal) and scored a greasy goal to pull the Blackhawks within one in the third period. Kane evened it up shortly after.
"Turned the game for us," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Kubalik's goal. "I think we were playing well, but they just took it to another level. Not only did they score, but it was an explosive shift there. And it wasn't the only good shift they had, but it really gave us momentum. They've been good."
Capitals 5, Blackhawks 3
— The Blackhawks won the even-strength battle, but special teams was the story of the game. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 and gave up a shorthanded goal.
— Kirby Dach made his NHL debut and held his own, centering the second line alongside Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:41 of ice time. He also went 1-for-5 in the faceoff circle with his sole win coming on the opening draw of the game.
— The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad was excellent. They controlled 70.9 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts and 77.8 percent of the 5-on-5 scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. Kubalik had a game-high 10 shots on goal.
1. Capitals RW Tom Wilson — Game-winning goal, three shot attempts (two on goal), four blocked shots, three hits and two takeaways in 16:48 of ice time
2. Capitals G Braden Holtby — Stopped 41 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .932
3. Blackhawks RW Dominik Kubalik — One goal, 14 shot attempts (10 on goal), two hits and one takeaway in 14:15 of ice time
— Caggiula finishes off pretty goal by fourth line
— Kubalik's second goal of the season
— Kane goes five-hole Holtby to tie it up
Nylander steals it and let's Showtime take care of the rest! pic.twitter.com/Nb51TTPMqi— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) October 21, 2019
The Blackhawks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago.